If you told Monika Schaefer her life had gone to pot, she would agree. That’s pot, as in pottery, and Monika is not only a dedicated potter but she has helped many others enjoy the craft. Since joining the Burlington Potter’s Guild 20 years ago, she has been on the executive, set up the website (which she also manages), co-ordinated sales for potters at the Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) and run electric kiln training workshops. She’s also the Guild’s sales chair. And, of course, she makes pots, lot of them, as well as other enchanting items, like birdbaths and garden ornaments. “I am lovingly referred to as the GOAT which means Goddess Of All Things,” says Schaefer, laughing.
She’s one of the many potters who have worked quietly behind the scenes to keep the Burlington Potter’s Guild alive and thriving. The Guild was formed in January 1969 when a small group of experienced potters came together to celebrate their art and, within ten years, they had 100 members, 18 wheels, two kilns and were offering some 27 classes. The AGB is a great base for them and is also home to the largest contemporary ceramic art collection in Canada, as well as home to several other Guilds.
The Guild’s goal is to provide a welcoming and learning environment for members to further their craft. Members meet monthly, bring in guest speakers and arrange two sales per year. Then there’s the social aspect. “What I like about the Guild is that it is very welcoming and people are willing to share experiences, tips and techniques, no matter what your experience level,” Schaefer states.
Many members, including Schaefer, joined as a beginner after taking a class at the AGB. Now she teaches. After all these years, she’s never lost her love of the clay craft. “I love how it feels in my hands, especially when it’s at the leather hard stage and at that point it can be carved into. I also love the Christmas morning like surprise every time I open the kiln and see how that load has turned out,” she says.
Toss your worries aside and try your hand at throwing some clay on a pottery wheel to see what you can create. Fire up the kiln and fire up your imagination.
Benefits of Pottery
It’s messy, it’s creative and making pottery is also said to have health benefits,
including the following:
It’s a chance to practice mindfulness.
You only focus on your creation rather than worries outside of the studio.
Focusing on the pottery helps the mind relax, which transitions to all aspects of life.
It helps you express your creativity and
it is something people of all ages can participate in.
The act of making pottery is gentle yet
it helps to strengthen the hands, wrists and arms.
It’s immensely fun for everyone, especially kids.
When kids get to squish, roll and manipulate the clay
it gives them freedom to express themselves and
they get a kick out of how the clay feels in their hands.
Over time, working with clay gives children
more precise motor control and hand-eye co-ordination.
It captures memories.
Archaeological digs recover age-old pottery and offer
clues to civilizations past. While your work may not one day end up
in a museum,seeing your work on display instills pride and
serves as a reminder of your accomplishments.
by Denise Davy
Burlington Potter’s Guild