Muddy hands and dirty words, that’s what I like. I’ve always been a maker of sorts but it’s pottery that really grabbed and kept my attention. Growing up, I was also a bit of a science nerd. Crafting my own glazes in my basement studio laboratory has rekindled my excitement about chemistry and helps me create things that are truly one of a kind. I am enamoured by the texture and temperamental nature of the porcelain I use. My work is inspired by over 20 years of working in corrections and exposure to some very colourful language. The juxtaposition of ‘bad’ words, and pretty things in fresh colours resonates with me. Seeing people’s faces as they realize what they’re reading on my wares is always a treat. I do, of course, make some things that are suitable for polite company. Ceramics, for me, is an outlet for my creativity and an opportunity for sharing a little bit of myself and my life experiences with others.
- Jenn RoukkalaSpin Sister Pottery
- Kat TwomeyBlack Dog Ceramics
My name is Kat Twomey, the local ceramic maker behind Black Dog Ceramics. I make slab built functional pottery for the kitchen and home. When I create, I am inspired by the nature surrounding the Lakehead region of Northwestern Ontario.
My work aims to preserve nature by decoratively pressing living plants into clay. I love to share the beauty of handmade functional pottery with people, as well as preserve imprints of local plant life for years to come.
- Karen LongPhire Pottery
Karen moved to Thunder Bay as a young adult and fell in love with the beauty of the region’s landscape. Embracing the many “moods” of Lake Superior; the splendour of water, sky, rock, forest, colours, and seasons, she actively explores nature’s beauty throughout the year by hiking, canoeing, camping, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Karen began expressing her inspirations from nature through ceramic artwork a few years ago, after being introduced to the steps and stages of creating pottery. Instantly passionate about this process she dove in with both hands; muddy messy, happy hands. Karen meticulously forms artistic, yet functional, vessels. These pieces are unique, comfortable and appealing to use throughout your day. Karen chooses glazes which resonate with the colours of Lake Superior and the Canadian Shield to reflect the inspiration for her artwork. Layered glazes add depth and richness to the already beautiful form of Karen’s creations. In small batches, she crafts each piece with intentional care and attention to detail. Using paintbrush, carving tools and clay slip she embellishes pieces to reflect individual interests.
The unity of artistry and function make Karen’s pottery a lifelong cherished possession or treasured gift.
- Noël KeagStone Circle Pottery
Noël Keag has been a ceramic artist for 24 years and has been teaching pottery for 18 years. She received her education locally from several gifted ceramic artists and went on to take courses through Lakehead University, The Dundas Valley School of Art, and all the workshops that she could find, travelling throughout the country and abroad. She is currently the President of the Thunder Bay Potters’ Guild and has held the positions of Workshop Co-coordinator and Communication Director over the years. Noël also held the prestigious office of Northern Director, as a board member for FUSION: the Ontario Clay and Glass Association.
Noël has had many feature articles written about her in various newspapers and magazines locally, nationally and internationally and her work is found in numerous countries around the world. Her most impressive publication is the Lark book; 500 Teapots II, an international publication showcasing 500 potters from around the world.
Although Noël adores making pottery, her passion is for teaching. She revels in sharing her love of pottery with her students. She lives, works, sells and teaches ceramic art in Thunder Bay Ontario from her cottage studio at Stone Circle Pottery.
- Alan MoonAlan Moon Pottery
A full-time potter since 1981, Alan has always made functional pottery. He hopes his work projects a quiet presence, offers the sense of substance, confidence, satisfaction and friendly warmth to the owner and open and welcoming hospitality to ones guests.
- Karen CocksKamelot Pottery
I live and work as a studio potter in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I am a graduate of the Library and Informations Studies Program at Lakehead University and I had a successful career as a Library Technician with the Lakehead Public Schools for over 25 years. During this time, I became involved in the local clay community and furthered my newfound interest by studying under three experienced and innovative mentors. Under their watchful guidance and nurturing, I learned the proper technical skills needed to establish my own studio practice. I have taken part in all clay-related workshops hosted by the Thunder Bay Potters’ Guild and elsewhere when the opportunity arose. This diverse exposure to internationally renowned ceramic artists from across Canada, the United States and England has been invaluable to my education in clay.
I enjoy the physical nature of wet clay, and I am amazed each and every time I sit at the potter’s wheel by the endless possibilities of form that await me. I love to create pots that feel good, look good and function well and have a sense of purpose in the hands of its user. Ultimately, it is this human connection that continues to keep me engaged and centred.
My natural surroundings impact my work and living alongside the beautiful Kaministiquia River, gives me ample inspiration to create with clay. I truly love what I do and clay is a large part of my life and my passion! It is my hope that these sentiments translate into the pots that I make.
- Katrin HeurzelerKH. ceramic design
I’m never tired of watching people pick up a handmade mug, pause, observe and feel the surface before they take a sip from it.
Clay gives me the opportunity to create my own canvas, and yes, sometimes that canvas is a cup, or a plate.
In my recent work I focus on abstract painting on wood panel first. I look for the spontaneous, the unplanned drip of paint, the scratch revealing an unexpected colour. That unforced energy brings me an aliveness that I try to reflect onto my vessels thrown on the wheel. The rich black clay body gives depth to the layers of terra sigillata, slips and underglazes. While I explore the directness of colour on paper, clay gives me the possibility to carve and expose the different layers of coloured slip.
I fire in an electric kiln and find richness mostly with a darker clay body. I switch back and forth between different clays and porcelains to keep me curious and engaged.
- Tim AlexanderIsland Pottery Studio
I grew up in Thunder Bay and was introduced to clay playing on the beaches of Black Bay in Dorion where our family had a family cottage. As a teen my grandfather helped me build a potters wheel and gradually I picked up basic skills. I continued to pursue ceramics through the fine arts program at Lakehead University .
After 30 years of working in clay, function continues to be the basis for most of my ideas as a potter. I like that pottery is experienced both as a visual as well as a physical thing appreciated in the context of use, not something that just sits on a shelf. I would even argue that we do not fully appreciate a pot unless we are able to handle and use it.
I continue to work at a potters wheel, working in series of cups, bowls, or plates. This process helps me explore variations on a form and refine the original idea. Typically, new ideas emerge slowly out of the day to day making cycle.
During the summer I work at my Island studio and house in Rossport perched on the rim of Lake Superior. The view to open water and nearby islands is wide and always in the background. It encourages a feeling of expanse. Images from life in the boreal forest and the lake regularly find their way on to my work in one way or another. The wood fired Japanese climbing kiln I built in 1997 is used 3 or 4 times a year. I also have a studio in Thunder Bay where I fire with a gas kiln.
What I love about clay and what keeps me going as a potter, are the seemingly endless possibilities of the material and the direct engagement with the moment.
Visit the Island Pottery Store
- Melesa Hanethe clay Pottery
Melesa Hane of the clay Pottery was born in British Columbia and is a long-time resident of Northwestern Ontario. Creating with her hands has always been a part of who she is. Working with clay became an extension of that about 5 years ago. She was blessed through the generosity and mentorship of others to be able to establish a home studio over the last few years and is looking forward to offering workshops, lessons, and studio space to provide a creative space for others, pending the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Her business name is “the clay” and her artistic style focuses on individuality which both stem from Isaiah 64:8: Each of us are created uniquely, from the dust of the earth and for a specific purpose. Though some of her pieces can work together as a set, no two pieces are exactly alike.
She is most known for her big mugs and platter sets.