The Clay Arts Guild will focus on outdoor garden pots and garden decoration at the Artists’ Market spring sale Friday through Sunday in Walnut Creek.
Several Lamorinda "clay throwers" will be present, with their creations available for sale. A reception with live music, light refreshments and a flower-arranging demo kicks off the sale from 5-9 p.m. Friday at the Civic Park Studio, 1313 Civic Dr.
The sale continues 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and April 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Park Studio. Art lovers will be everywhere on the sidewalks of downtown Walnut Creek as the Downtown Business Association also holds its Fine Arts and Crafts Festival Saturday and Sunday on North Main Street and Locust Street (the latter will be closed to vehicle traffic for several blocks).
Among the many local potters taking part is Clarice Judah of Orinda. Judah focuses on creating pots using salt fire and raku techniques. Raku-fired pottery is taken out of the kiln while still red-hot and then put in a metal container with burning material such as leaves. The result is a smoky finish to the glaze.
Salt firing uses common table salt in the high temperature part of firing the pot. The sodium mixes with silicate in the clay to create a glossy finish in browns, blues or purple.
“Salt fire is very organic,” said Judah. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
With part of the proceeds of the sale going to CAG, Judah said she is motivated to help the sale so that Civic Arts can replace an aging salt kiln. “Walnut Creek Civic Arts expects CAG to pay half the costs of the kiln,” she said.
As a CAG member since 1972, she has seen the Civic Arts programs and the guild grow tremendously.
“I remember when we used to bring a trailer to set up in front City Hall for our sales,” she said. “Now we have 300 people a week going through the studio” for classes and open studio work.
Also participating in the April 27-29 show is Moragan Mary-Leigh Miller. She credits her mother with getting her started in clay.
“She had taken up ceramics at some point while I was off at college and carried this interest to our family summer home in Southeastern Ontario, where she set up an outdoor studio,” Miller said. “Her equipment included two kick wheels (hand built by her father) that sat out under the trees overlooking a lake. She mixed her own clay and glazes from dry ingredients and fired everything in a small electric kiln. During the first summers I spent up there, I started playing around with throwing and hand building. This eventually led to taking ceramics classes, workshops and getting involved at local arts centers in the various places I’ve lived, culminating with my move to the Walnut Creek area in the mid-‘80s.”
Miller, like many artists, finds herself drawn to clay because of its tactile qualities and plasticity.
“The expressiveness I can achieve with clay inspires me to try as many different methods as I can, but I have mostly limited myself to functional pottery. I enjoy both wheel throwing and hand building,” she said.
Creating the form in wet clay is her inspiration.
“I have always found the glazing process a bit of a chore, which is one reason I enjoy salt firing," she said. "Utilizing this technique keeps the glazing to a minimum and lets the vaporized salt do most of the job. On the other hand, I’ve always liked Raku because of the immediacy of the process – seeing my finished pot 30 minutes or less after it has gone in the kiln!”