Have you heard about the airstream on the side of the highway somewhere in the
Kootenays? The secondary scenic highway winds through the picturesque Slocan
Valley, following the river around cliff bends and open agriculture. About 20km
north of civilization there sits an airstream trailer conveniently nestled up against a
forested hillside beside a pullout for weary and stiff travellers that need a breath of
fresh air or to stretch their legs.
Follow a winding trail up through a steep mixed forest and you’ll come to an
opening in the trees, and a narrow driveway that leads to a unlikely homestead.
There are brick piles laying around, odd machinery bits and pieces, chimneys
popping out of log framed sheds that house kilns and stacks and stacks of woodpiles
in their various stages of drying.
The home belongs to Robin and Eden DuPont, and their two children and two
German shepherd dogs. For over ten years the vision has been the same, with each
year a new investment into the bigger picture as the homestead continues to evolve
and has been shaped and developed into a home-based studio pottery business.
The clay is mixed, and when ready for use it is formed in various methods into useful
objects. When the objects dry, they are ready for firing. They get lined with a glaze
and then they are loaded into one of the many kilns.
One of the kilns is fired by a crew of 8 or more people for four days straight. This
concept, absurd and mostly unheard of to the average Canadian, however comes
from an ancient Japanese method of wood firing. The firing crew is made up of
potters, school teachers, timber framers, musicians and web designers. Students
often come from abroad to take part in the communal activity.
With this amount of time invested, and so many variables to try to control and
understand there are bound to be disappointments and failures. But that is where
the learning takes place. Some pots need to be dug out of burnt ember beds as wood
has been piled up for near 100 hours on top.
When the pots are cleaned up and intentionally selected, they are carried down the
mountain trail and take up residence in the airstream until the wary traveller pulls
Pie plates for homemakers, a new cereal bowl for the forester, a group of wine cups
are gifted to an inlaw. The pots go out into the world and take on a life of their own
to become a favorite morning coffee vessel.
Come check us out some time.
Kiln logs are often the most under-appreciated studio tool, and yet one of the most essentials when it comes to keeping track of what has been done in the past.