Monday, June 27, 2011

Katy Fogg's Stoneware: Weekend Market Adventures and Linda's Job

“Linda, it is a SUGAR bowl.”


“So what would you use it for?” I asked her looking at the $40+ price tag.

“Uhhhhh…..” She gave the little one shoulder shrug, “Sugar?”

“And the last time you used a ‘sugar’ bowl?”

“well…ug….it’s really pretty.” I stared her down and she said, “A few years, okay!”
I had to see this bowl (bottom right) which she went on and on about when I had given her money to go and buy some pottery from Katy Fogg of Living Earth Pottery at the James Bay Market. She had bought stoneware vases and a small vinegar dispenser. I still ask her, as she takes it out to admire it, what she was planning to use that for. Spending spree was one of the gifts I gave her for her birthday. But it seemed that Katy had more pottery Linda wanted to buy than she had money. Katy had used the winter to make lots of new and nice mugs, vases, decanters, plates in a variety of colours: lots of new and wonderful things like the milk jug pictured below.

The two vases, blue and green in the original picture above were newly shown this week and only because it was a cloudy day did they not sparkle (like the milky way, when in the sun or the right indoor lights) with the iron and other crystals in the entire body of the vase. The tops of the vases are coloured by geodes of Willemite (made of silca and zinc and grown through 16 hours of 1000+ centigrade heat. The top of the milk jug uses a glaze of Rust Crystals which during the 14 hour constant heat firing turns into different colours and strands flowing slowly over the surface.
After travelling around Europe and driving down to San Diego, I realized that Victoria has so many artists that those here are under appreciated. I write this after having my Amarillo and brandy in cherry heated over my vanilla ice cream, another mix by Whimsical Jams ($5 a jar, and make diabetic flavors on demand – hand picked organic berries) picked up at the same market.

I had tried for a month before I could get out to see Katy Fogg, because the Market only runs in the summer and I wanted Linda to have the largest selection of choices she could. Towards the end of summer tourists and locals, find buying a $20 stoneware mug pictured below crafted with clay from Medicine Hat Alberta and Northern California is better than one from ‘tourist alley’ at the same price. Katy uses local beeswax (Salt Spring?) in the glazing, all of which are non-toxic. They are durable for oven, dishwasher and microwave (not the iron ones please!). Remember these pictures do not show how beautiful they are, due to poor lighting. The large pieces and vases are the kind we saw in Oregon and California for two and three times the price (or in Laguna Beach for five to ten times the price) without the elegant and functional ‘cool’. Much less the durability of being used and washed by different care workers daily.

Essentially there are so many good artists, organic growers that we are spoiled an used to seeing eight pottery artists on a Saturday. For me, I am exacting. I need pottery which is like a swiss knife, a waterman fountain, a Thermarest or Danner Boots: it needs to be always work, it needs to be something made beyond profit: functional obsession. In pottery that means Good clean throws that are consistent and easy to use. To find someone who has spent 14 years going beyond that, adding the beauty but keeping the basic form and firing which made Stoneware so popular in the 18th century and sells them for $12-75 is astounding.

Before I was ill, I slept on the floor because of the scoliosis (using lung pressure to stop my spine from locking while sleeping) using only the Therma-rest lite. I used Therma-rest for over 14 straight years. Every night for over 5,000 nights whether camping, in open air, in bedrooms. And if it failed, they replaced it (the lite didn’t fail, through it did fray in fabric after 9 years so they replaced it free). And that’s what I experience in Kate’s work. And that's why I keep coming back.

With the summer here the flower and organic food sellers had come out with stalls. Linda and I we picked up some basil for the small window garden we are going to try. We also saw Laura Victoria who does handcarved and handsculpted soap (all soaps without artificial perfumes for those sensitive or with skin conditions) had created a new flavor, the lime. It was delicious in scent. Laura-Victoria has been making soap for 28 years. Linda took a lemon of hers into work, to help create a nice aroma in her new office (those who work with her couldn’t believe it was soap, actual all natural, hand-milled soap). I got some bars to send out as presents.

Linda’s work? Well, while it doesn’t quite cover the costs it does have some advantages like going off to check out a light-house. Linda works with the Islands Trust, the go-to person for asking questions about the 400+ islands in the ‘Inland Passage’, the space between Vancouver Island and the Mainland (and 400+ is only half way up the island). So if you want to clear trees, you have to apply (someone clear-cut too many trees against regulations and later there was a landslide – that’s why there are regulations). Each inhabited island has their own rules and regulations. One of her first questions was whether there should be a blue badge disabled spot in a parking lot on Salt Spring (one of the Islands nearest to Victoria). The answer was yes, 5% of all parking lots need to be blue badge. In contrast with Victoria, BC there are 28 designated parking spots in downtown Victoria’s multi-thousand spaces (in James bay there is….one, in Fairfield there are none): “The City recognizes that the demand for the 28 new dedicated spaces may, at times, outstrip supply.”

As a perk, Linda gets to go to any island for free once a year (no ferry charge), but also there are trips to islands for meetings or lunches. She went last week on an office trip to Salt Spring, then a boat to Galiano, on which she saw two eagles.Here is one, you can see him on the top of the tallest tree, the water far below and he is a bald eagle, the dark form and white head atop the highest branch. In Galiano there was a trip to Montague Bay, a park leading to the ocean. Some officers in the Island trust work with residents who want to turn the land they own into a heritage of a park. Remember, this is the ‘new west’ out here and while the government is still selling off parts of islands, first and second generation people who bought government land on islands are still figuring out what to do with the land they bought. So new parks all the time.

This is VERY different from our last home in Cardiff, where the nearest notable park was Roath Park donated and built by the Marquis of Bute in 1887 (with odd clock tower in midst of lake with boating and all). It also has a very small conservatory with horny turtles (we came in upon a turtle orgy…in slo-mo).

The Marquis not only owned all the land (including where our Victorian House was built) but many older widow women spit after saying his name. From the 18th to the 20th century the Marquis grew vastly wealthy on ‘black gold’ and still runs trainloads of coal right UNDER the university down to harbor. Since so many died in the mines that during WWII accidents you had a greater risk to casualty as a ‘conscripted miner’ in Wales than you did in the Armed Forces (which created a huge strike). The Marquis, simultanous to Roath Park built Castle Coch, a fairy tale castle which, in the end, was never lived in.
So you can see how different it is when you buy 5 acres for a few thousand and 60 years later there is so much development you can leave a park as a legacy (thankfully no wacky castles except the two in Victoria, Hartley Castle, also built through coal money was covered in a previous post). And with lots of neighbors, someone has to answer the questions and settle disputes. Linda is that first step.

The next day we worked on Postcards, and passed the next 100 mark (6,200?) with 22 postcards and 8 presents. I have been using up some of the stickers from Japan, Sinapore, France, Brazil, and parts of the USA including those bought in Hawaii. Here is a combo of stamping and stickering for a summer festival look.
I have a lunch date tomorrow so off to bed with me. Hope you had a good weekend also.


wendryn said...

Gorgeous pictures!

I hope you have fun at lunch!


Lene Andersen said...

Lovely photos! The pottery is gorgeous - wish that woman would come here so I could see it in person. Or maybe not, as I'd surely want to buy all of it! ;)

Linda's job sounds wonderful! Amazing perks.

Glad you had a good weekend!

p.s. 6000+ cards? Wow! I remember when you began - your goal was 1000!

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
today's post was a balm to my soul. So great to read your description of the market, artists & their works. Lovely soap - I remember the pictures from past years market jaunts. And I still have the little bird's egg soaps you sent me. The potter imbues these useful objects with beauty and reverence. So great to have such things for everyday use. I would like to see the effect of the glazes in person.

Thanks for telling us about Linda's job. I'm happy that she gets to be outdoors and has the opportunity to visit the tiny islands. And a pleasure trip. Again, congratulations to Linda for being hired - the perks are certainly special and I hope she will get a raise too.


Noisyworld said...

Wow, I'd want to buy all that pottery too! There is nothing like an artisan who knows and loves their job for real quality :)

Linda's job sounds amazing, I'd never considered each Island would be its own little domain but I guess it's the most logical if not the simplest way :)

Dawn Allenbach said...

The hand-carved shell soap you sent to me when I was in rehab amazed everyone who saw it. One person said "Oh, pretty!" and when she picked it up she asked, "How did they get it to smell so good?" I think there were still a couple of people who didn't believe it was soap.

And I am a pottery whore. I freaking lose my mind at renaissance festivals.

Boy, Linda's job must SUCK!! I mean, her bosses forcing her to go to all those beautiful sites. Poor Linda!

I hope you make your lunch date and you have a fabulous time.

6000+ postcards? It's almost inconceivable!

Elizabeth McClung said...


me: "You keep saying that, but I do not think what you think it means is what it killed my father prepare to die!"

Sorry, I could not help making a Princess Bride reference.

Yeah, one brick does not a wall make but several years week by week and it starts to get fairly long, double that and I think I have a mile of postcards end to end.

Neil said...

I hope the lunch date went well, and you didn't suffer from the efforts of the weekend PLUS a date.

The pottery is gorgeous! It's a good thing I don't live near you, for I have three clumsy offspring, and one of the cats we've been owned by was as clumsy as the kids. But we do use sugar bowls - you have to put the sugar SOMEWHERE!

The lime soap looks just as real as the last soaps you posted, and also too ____ing tempting.

If you go to Katy's website (the link's in the blog), then look under "Current work" there's a stunning photo of her with a baby; I hope the baby's not for sale though! :) You move your cursor around the photo of the works for sale, and she and the child are on the extreme right side. Tricky way of showing your work.

6200 cards... I, too, remember you wanting to send 1000 before you died. Overachiever! :)

Nice job Linda's got; shame about all that travel, though. So much time away from her gorgeous wife... Can she bid into other jobs now that she's "in" the union (again?)?

Love and zen hugs to all,

Kate J said...

Lovely pottery! And I reckon Linda's got a great job... the gulf Islands are amazing! I have a cousin who lives on Salt Spring Island, and I love visiting her there, and the really great Market they have there too! Next time I'm in Canada I plan to take the ferry to some of those other islands - my cousin knows people on Galiano and some of the other islands as their kids come to High School on Salt Spring... and because she works for BC Ferries! So I hope Linda's enjoying her new job.

And thanks for including the pic of Castell Coch! The Marquess of Bute had this built as well as his 'main' residence of Cardiff Castle, where he modified an existing Castle to be like something out of a fairy-tale. He had mind-boggling amounts of money, made on the backs of the coal miners and dock workers.

Raccoon said...

"I need pottery which is like a Swiss knife..."

There's something about that phrase that caught me just right.

So, let me get this straight. You used a Thermarest on the floor, even after you got married? Why?

It looks like there are some nice wheelchair paths in Montague Bay.

6200 postcards is a lot. And way back when, when you started, 500 was the big goal!

Glad the day wasn't too stressful for you.

Dawn Allenbach said...

Bonus for the Princess Bride reference!

Baba Yaga said...

Very attractive pots - not my style at all, but beg to be fondled, even in photographs. I like the organic effect of the 'runs' of colour.

As for sugar bowls, I'm sure they hold other things too.

6,200 is a heck of a lot of cards.

Kate J said...

Happy Canada Day to you and Linda!
Love & peace

Neil said...

I hope you Canada Day weekend went well. Since there's no post yet, I suspect it didn't go as well as you would have liked it to.

Thinking of you and Linda, and sending positive energy.

My Oldest Son bought the Rebus video for me; both the videos will be a birthday present for my Beloved Wyfe. Thanks for that auction, Beth!

Love and zen hugs,

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

We've been out of it for a while, hence no comments... visiting an elder aunt in Oregon and back last Tuesday, only to have to say goodbye to our oldest cat. We've been in "recovery" since.

Anyway, not a lot to say except we're still checking in to see how you and Linda are doing.

Love to you both!

Catfishrr said...

This is the commerce version of the movie catfish.

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
I hope you & Linda had some fun on the weekend. Dennis had to work yesterday. In the evening we watched the nearby fireworks over the lake. We can see them from our house.
It is a hard time for us, as we have been going through the process of changing our insurance as our Cobra has run out. I can get insurance through a special program, HIPPA, which is for people with pre-existing conditions. Dennis had to get private insurance for himself. It's been hard on Dennis both because of all the paperwork involved and the financial worries.

Love to you & Linda,

PS: I hope it's not too hot up there. We're having a heatwave, but our air conditioner is keeping it cool for me.