Finding inspiration at the wheel

Oak Bay potter among the artists welcoming guests into the studio

Artist Sandi Madsen works on a pottery piece in advance of the Oak Bay Artists’ Studio Tour April 18 and 19.

Artist Sandi Madsen works on a pottery piece in advance of the Oak Bay Artists’ Studio Tour April 18 and 19.

As Sandi Madsen spins a chunk of clay into a work of art, she thinks about who might purchase the bowl, mug or other creation.

The Oak Bay woman envisions a bride’s face as she opens her gift. Or with, say a commission piece for an older male, she worries over the weight of the mug, where the handle might hit the fingers.

Madsen is both a perfectionist and an artist, a combination that bodes well for customers of her pottery and jewelry.

“People inspire me. I’m inspired to make people happy,” she says.

It’s why she spent nearly two years learning the silver craft before offering her jewelry for sale in a Duncan shop.

“I want it to be good,” she says. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”

With her pottery, a work takes six weeks, start to finish. The process includes forming, a series of drying times and a couple of firings in a kiln to create dishwasher safe and functional pieces.

“Clay does its own thing, it has its own life,” Madsen says. “It’s messy, it’s dirty, being a ceramic artist you really need a designated space.”

It also involves some trust that her self-made glazes turn out. For example, a blue glaze appears red as it goes on. Personalized glazes are worth the extra effort, she says, seen as a signature for ceramic artists.

“I know what’s in it. I want to know it’s safe, that there’s quality ingredients,” she says.

“The colours are important. I have a couple of glazes that people know are mine.”

Art has always played a significant role in her life, starting with playing guitar and writing music at an early age. She shifted into a fabric art phase and three-dimensional art and then discovered pottery.

“I’ve always been creative … in my spare time that’s what I did,” she says.

Volunteering has also been a key ingredient. These days the Oak Bay woman spends much time promoting arts and artists in Greater Victoria.

“I get involved in things I think are important to society and the world,” she says. “In Victoria there’s a lot of arts and artists but they need support. You need to support art and artists if you want to have arts.”

Part of that support includes participating in promotion of their studios, such as the upcoming Oak Bay Artists’ Studio Tour hosted by Recreation Oak Bay April 18 and 19. It’s coming on 10 years for Madsen, who joined the tour when she moved to the community from Vancouver.

The two-day special event is free to the public. Brochures with artist descriptions and a tour map are available at the Oak Bay Recreation centres,  municipal hall and the Oak Bay library as well as at local businesses on Estevan and Oak Bay avenues and through participating artists.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

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