Pottery is a little bit science and a little bit magic, says Emma Heitzmann.
She is one of the teachers at the Campbell River Community Centre and also serves as a volunteer on Tuesday nights for aspiring potters to pop in and work on some clay.
Compared with some arts, pottery has more space requirements, most notably access to a kiln, which the community centre site has. Its craft room also has a few wheels as well as clays, glazes and other supplies.
Through the fall, the drop-in time happens Tuesday evenings as well as Friday afternoons, and Heitzmann says people can come in to work on projects. A different volunteer, Val Kitchen, comes by to help with the Friday drop-in sessions.
The time, she stresses, is not class time. She and a couple of other instructors offer classes throughout the week where people of different skill levels can come and learn the craft.
“We’re all doing our own thing right now,” says Heitzmann, who is currently teaching an introduction class for using a wheel.
Ellen Statz teaches adult classes and does hand-building, or making pottery without needing the wheel.
“She takes on quite large classes because she has the capacity to,” Heitzmann says. “She’s a potter of 40-odd years. She’s very good.”
Finally, Julie McMath teaches the classes for children. Heitzmann points to some pictures of scary monster masks that McMath made with her students.
“I’m always impressed with what she can do with the kids’ classes,” Heitzmann says. “She’s just really a master at helping kids figure stuff out and make projects that they’re happy with.”
The drop-in sessions are for those who want to put what they have learned or are learning into action. The people that come by might make everything from drinking and eating vessels to more abstract artistic pieces.
Kim Robilliard and her daughter Kinsley come by to the centre regularly to work on projects and to spend time together.
“It’s mother-daughter play time,” Kim says. “It’s such a great thing for the two of us to do…. We get to be creative and have fun.”
The number of people who drop by can vary.
“I’ve had everywhere from no one to 14 people show up,” says Heitzmann, adding 14 is the maximum they can take.
There is no set time for a project, as there are too many variables for the project, she says. Some people do leave behind their items and while the volunteers try to get the participants to pick up their work, ultimately they will take things to a garage sale to help raise funds for the program if anything is left behind.
Heitzmann, herself, learned the craft by taking classes in Courtenay, and there are a few kilns available in the neighbouring community.
However, having the local kiln at the community centre’s craft room means potters in Campbell River can come to work close to home and have a kiln handy either for the early “bisque” stage with the pottery or later glazing.
The drop-in times through the fall run from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday evenings and Friday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m. The Community Centre is at 401-11th Ave. For more information, call 250-286-1161.