Local potters to showcase art in Grand Rapids
On November 8 and 9, the West Michigan Potter’s Guild(WMPG) will showcase their work at the Cultural Center of St. Nicholas Church in their 30th annual show and sale(2250 East Paris Ave SE).
“This show is comprised of potters who hand build or throw on the wheel,” says Georgia Howe, the Vice President of the WMPG. “It’s not like they buy plates that have already been fired and decorate them. This is all handmade, artful pottery.”
Over 40 local potters will show their work starting at noon on Friday until 9 p.m., starting again Saturday at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Howe says the event will showcase a multitude of work, materials and art styles. One veteran artist, Mike Bryant, will display his Raku pottery.
“It’s a type of pottery that’s pretty unusual,” says Bryant. “It’s non-functional, and it’s based on some techniques from 700-800 years ago in Japan and China, but we’ve pretty much Americanized it.”
Bryant explains that most pottery is placed in a closed kiln and brought to temperature slowly over 12 hours and cooled slowly over 12 hours.
“90% of the pottery out there does that. 99% actually. Raku is a situation where I’ll heat my pieces to 1800 degrees Farenheit in a half an hour, pull them out of the kiln with tongs, and place them into a fireproof barrel like a garbage can,” says Bryant. “Then I smother it. What I’m trying to do is burn all the oxygen out of the can.”
Bryant explains that this process burns the oxides out of the pottery, creating a texture unique to Raku.
“One of the goals of a Raku artist is to create an oil spot look,” says Bryant. “It’s very lucid and hard to duplicate, but very attractive to us.”
While many veterans will attend the event, Bryant says the show offers a venue for new artists as well.
“For some of the beginning potters, it might be their first chance to do this,” says Bryant. “So they have a support group with the rest of the potters around them.Part of our mission statement is that we try to attract and encourage new artisans. It’s a way to educate and bring up the new, and share with the public.”
The show is free to enter for the public, and each hour of the show a free piece of pottery will be given randomly as a door prize. The show also features a central cash register.
“You take all your purchases up front,” says Bryant, “and we take care of you with one swipe.”