Sculptor resides within a potter

The Rayleigh studio of potter Karen Palmer is chock-a-block full of functional ware in preparation for back-to-back shows this weekend, but beyond the production line she's focused on fresh artistic direction.

Saturday's guild sale at Desert Gardens, followed by Sunday's Craft-A-Fair at Interior Savings Centre, offer shoppers a vast array of handcrafted choices for the gift-giving season.

Within the guild, there are functional potters and decorative potters, and then there are those who play both sides of the field. Ten years after she started throwing and hand-building her work, Palmer has been nurturing her artistic side. That's not unusual among guild members, a closeknit community of learners.

"We're constantly trying to evolve as artists by having workshops."

Over the last few years she's taken to slip-carving, in which designs are carved with a knife into a second layer of coloured clay, a slip, creating a relief finish in distinctive designs. She's adopted a signature design motif in black and white. They are still functional pieces, but not the sort people will tuck away in a cupboard. Her artistry brings them to life as objects suitable for room dÃcor.

"This is where I'd like to be, concentrating on these and more large-sale works with bodies, people and emotion."

Peeled Passage, a summer show Palmer had at Wilson House Gallery, highlighted her new direction. The show included a slip-carved sculpture modelled on her own torso, quite a departure from production pottery.

A pottery instructor as well, Palmer recently relocated from Westsyde and has adapted a garage so that it can support indoor/outdoor workshops for guild members. Vince Pitelka, a well-known artists from Tennessee, is visiting next summer for one such session.

Palmer has visited China in the past and obtained a diploma through Australian International University to develop her artistry.

"I really learned how to get out of the box," she said.

She now has her sights set on contemporary fine-art exhibition, perhaps even the Kamloops Art Gallery.

"I just have to spend more time developing the work. I want to do big exhibits, but I'll always do a functional line for bread and butter."


WHAT: Thompson Valley Potters' Guild fall sale (pottery and weaving)

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

WHERE: Desert Gardens, 540 Seymour St.

ALSO: Craft-A-Fair, a fundraiser for the RIH Evening Auxiliary, takes place Sunday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Interior Savings Centre

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