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Sea to Sky Potters' Guild holding demonstration this Sunday

Head to Brackendale on March 6 to watch an obvara Raku firing.

The Sea to Sky Potters’ Guild is getting all fired up, literally. 

This weekend, the guild will be hosting an obvara Raku firing demonstration on Sunday in Brackendale. 

Anyone interested is invited to come to watch. 

Obvara Raku, which is sometimes called Baltic Raku, involves hot pots being taken out of a kiln and then quickly dunked into a fermented liquid, which is made from water, flour, yeast, and sugar.

"A Raku firing takes place outdoors. And usually, it's a mobile kiln — ours is just an oil drum," said potter Kay Austen, who first got into pottery about 50 years ago. 

She said in addition to being dipped into the liquid, pots can also be plunged into materials that create flame and smoke, such as sawdust or old newspapers. 

"Plunging the very hot pottery into materials, which either flame or spatter is not only exciting visually, but it also creates unique surfaces on each piece which cannot be duplicated or made in any other way," she told The Squamish Chief. 

"Because the pieces are removed from the kiln every 20 minutes to half an hour when they have reached temperature, several firings take place in an afternoon."

Raku firing is a visually interesting activity, thus the demonstration, Austen said. 

"It is, if you like, a spectator sport," she said. "There's lots of action — people running around with these red hot pots on the ends of tongs and doing things with them. So, it's a bit of a dance between people coming and going, and it is pretty exciting to watch."

Not to mention the unique designs that result from the process. 

Attendees to the event Sunday can purchase pottery pieces right from the artists at the demonstration. 

"You've witnessed the birth of a pot and one that will never be reproduced because [of] the weather, the clay, the pot itself and the way it is fired. You'll never get exactly the same thing, so it is unique," Austen said. 

The Sea to Sky Potters’ Guild currently has about a dozen members who hail from south of Britannia Beach through to Pemberton. The guild is open to new members, including those who have never worked with clay before, Austen said. 

It is a medium for everyone, she noted.

"Anyone at all ages can do [it]. It is a totally inclusive medium," she said. 

Not only is it fun, but it is also healthy for the mind. 

"There's a great correlation between mental health, happiness and playing with clay," she said, with a chuckle. “Studies have been done and, well, I know it works for me.”

The event on Sunday, (March 6) starts at about noon at 41941 Ross Road, Brackendale.

For more information about the event, Austen can be found through her Facebook page, "Kay Austen Pottery," or at: 604-898-9775.

Squamish potters can be found at Squamish Potters on Facebook, while Whistler potters are found at Whistler Pottery Club.


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