ArtsTalk Blog - Q & A with Potter Jackie Warmelink

We hope to inspire you, our readers, in furthering your own interest in the arts by presenting talented artists living in our community to you.

Today our feature artist is SSAC Member & Potter, Jackie Warmelink of Mulmur, Ontario.

Q. As an artist what is the medium you use? Do you ever combine mediums? Describe how or why you might do so.

Answer: I use Stoneware clay fired at 2200 degrees for functional pieces and Raku Clay low fired at 1700 degrees for decorative/ sculptural pieces. I have placed pieces of glass (from beer bottles!) on some of my stoneware pieces – the glass melts at the same temperature as the glaze and flows over the bottom of a dish creating a shiny pool which crazes on cooling and gives an interesting highlight to a matte glaze.

Q. When did you become an artist? Have you found this easy to say, "I am an artist"?

Answer: I have studied pottery for 40+ years with various potters in all the countries I have visited – not sure how to answer when I became an artist as it was gradually… as I found my niche and started perfecting my process of production. I started my studio about 15 years ago, so perhaps that is when I became an artist! Don't really call myself an artist – prefer the handle "potter".

Q. Do you have a mentor or some special influence that has contributed to your growth in your artistic creativity? How has this or someone particular influenced you? If this is a person are they also an artist?

Answer: I have studied with several master potters over the years but Al Pace, a marvellous local potter and friend, was an amazing mentor in my early days of learning and still is to this day – If I have a question I still call Al for advice! With the Raku pottery , I studied with Michael Sheba at Haliburton College of Art and he has been a great influence and inspiration for my Raku pieces.

Q. When you begin a new work do you have a set routine or some specific steps to start the process?

Answer: All my work is made with rolled slabs so I roll my clay on my slab roller which ensures an even piece of clay to work with. When making a piece with an imprint of a leaf, I roll the leaf into the clay slab and cut around the leaf shape- after that, I decide what I will make – bowl, platter, vase - which depends on the leaf shape and how I feel it will look best in the piece.

Q. Do you have a favourite subject that you are drawn too? What do you think is the reason for this?

Answer: I like to imprint the clay with natural objects – leaves, bark, shells, or coral. This causes the glaze to "break' over the texture and results in interesting colours – never the same.

Q. Do you have you own studio or specific place that you work in?

Yes. I have a studio on our family farm which was an old 2 car garage for the original log home.

Answer My husband renovated it, insulated it, and put in some old windows from our house, and there are housed all my tools and my kiln. It is a wonderful place with wild roses and fields around it and is very inspirational. I have a small display area in the studio for a selection of finished work.

Q. Does your art require specific tools, supports, or time requirements that would add to your ability to successfully complete a piece?

Answer: My slab roller is a main piece of equipment, and my electric kiln.
I have a lot of small tools used in the making of my pottery (special knives, cutters) and also a collection of molds and boards to make the pieces.

Time-wise a piece would take approx. 3-4 weeks to make – first I make enough pieces to fill the kiln – this can take a week. Then I allow them to dry slowly naturally which for big pieces can take another week or more. Then the pieces are loaded in the kiln, bisque fired (a low firing) – which is a 24 hour process, then a cooling period of 24 hours. Next the piece can be handled and glazed before re-firing at a higher temperature. Glazing takes 2-3 days and the next firing 24 hours and then cooling of 24 hours. To make a pot is a long process!!

Q. What would you suggest as a way to begin, to assist someone interested in learning your art?

Answer: Take some lessons from a potter – and no I do not teach!! Most lessons teach making a pot on a wheel which is a difficult process to learn, I would suggest starting with hand-built pieces to learn how clay can be used and progress to wheel work later.

Q. What are some challenges you have faced as an artist and what helped you overcome them?

Answer: I have developed arthritis in my hands and can no longer work on the wheel. I changed to hand-built slab work and like it much better – there are a lot more options in hand-built pottery and each piece is unique.

Q. When you have dry spells or blanks in the creative process how do you deal with it?

Answer: I think all artists have dry spells creatively – especially over the last year with no shows and few chances to sell product. During those time I tend to make some of my basic work and stock up on bowls etc. for the future until I get inspired to create again.

Q. What is one of your memorable successes in relation to your work?

Answer: The first time I made leaf imprints in the clay and made functional pots from them – it was the start of a new process and has become very popular as it is unusual and unique.

Q. Do you accept commissions?

Answer: No – unless the idea of the piece requested REALLY inspires me! To make a special piece it often takes 2 or 3 prototypes before the final piece and then the customer may not like the result!! I will make a piece in a different glaze colour if it is a design that I usually make.

Q.If our readers are interested to know or see more of your work how would you like them to contact you?

Answer: Yes – they can make an appointment to come to my studio and see my work. My contact details are available on my SSAC Membership Profile