I Can Art: Wheel Throwing with Kari Watson

I Can Art: Wheel Throwing with Kari Watson

Nick Heazell explores the artistic talents of Calgary Arts Development staff

Here at Calgary Arts Development, we obviously do a lot of work centred on the arts, whether it’s amplifying artists or discussing topics like access, equity, budgets, grants and everything in between.

I have written a few of these Fieldnotes (as we call them), one of which was about spam and phishing in the arts community. The other was about graphics programs for people creating digital marketing and submitting ad listings. However, it dawned on me, that although all of this is in service to art, it would be great to talk more about art and creativity itself. I’m curious about what people are working on and their skills, drives and processes.

Then I thought, what better way is there to discover all the different projects and ways creativity can come to life than to speak with my colleagues here at Calgary Arts Development. So, with that simple premise, I’m going to speak with some of my colleagues and get some examples of their work, their process and joy (or frustration as the case may be) of producing their art, then share it in their own words.

We have almost 30 staff members — I’ll randomize (mostly) who the subject is each time and I’ll stick with mostly the same questions throughout, so we’ll see where that goes.

To get started, let’s speak with colleague and friend Kari Watson, who may be better known to you as our events guru and as communications specialist here, amongst many other things. Kari has been learning wheel throwing with clay and is coming up with some great results.

How long have you been at this?
I took my first wheel throwing class a few years back and was instantly hooked! I somehow picked up on how to centre the clay and make a very small, not-too-shabby bowl right away, which drew me in. Now, had I known that there would be many very shabby, very wonky bowls in my future….

How do you feel when you are doing the work?
Happy and relaxed. I remember at the end of the first day of my last course I looked around and I was the only person who didn’t have anything “made”. I didn’t even care — just sitting at the wheel, feeling the clay and figuring out how it behaves was really fun for me.

Do you ever get some of the artist feelings of frustration, imposter syndrome, or anything like that?
Oddly enough, no! Wow, I’m very well adjusted about all of this. I will never be on the Great Pottery Throw Down, but that’s okay. I just love the process of creating, even if I end up with nothing but numerous bowls lovingly strewn around my home.

Is this costly to undertake?
It can be — getting into pottery classes in this town is tough, and if I were to invest in my own pottery wheel and supplies, not to mention a space to do it, it could get a bit pricey.

What is something about your art, or the creation of it, that people don’t know?
There is something extremely pleasurable about trimming a piece of thrown clay. It’s like watching cleaning videos online — so satisfying!

Do you earn money from any of your practices?
Heck no, this is just for me.

Differently glazed potter creations by Kari Watson

What is the hardest part about wheel throwing or your process?
Trying to figure out what kind of glaze to appoint to each piece. Some really feel like they should be blue, some just say hey, leave me au naturel.

Do you have an outcome for your work or practice? For example, would you like to improve your skills to a certain degree, or get work in field, or host an exhibit, anything like that?
Of course, I’d love to improve. My goal currently is to make my own plant pots, which doesn’t seem that difficult but I’m still getting there. Maybe even *gasp* put some intricate designs on the pots! #goals

Do you have a couple examples of your favourite pieces to share? Can you speak about them, and the process and maybe why they are your favourite?
I have a few for sure. I do love geometric designs, and I have one small bowl — maybe it’s a cup, I’m open to suggestions — that I am just so pleased with the glazing and the colour and the shape. So simple, but it makes me happy to look at it.

Finally, what, if anything, are you working on right now, or what plans for future clay endeavours do you have?
I’ve just finished my last session of classes and am proud to say that most of my creations (bowls, mainly) do not look like a five-year-old made them, and they now live amongst many kind, complimentary friends and family.

Well, thanks to Kari for the insight into her creativity and for answering our questions. Sometimes being open about your art and creations can be daunting, so it’s great to have that shared with us!

A photo of A photo of Nick Heazell

Nick Heazell (he/him/his) is a communications specialist at Calgary Arts Development. Chances are if you have digital content — from classifieds, to news, to stories, to videos and more — he will post and publish it.

Nick studied information design and illustration, which he uses to create and sell geek-culture t-shirts, and is a keen digital painter.

Obviously he’s also a bit Star Wars obsessed. 



Calgary Arts Development Communications Specialist Kari Watson

Kari Watson (she/her/hers) is the communications specialist for Calgary Arts Development. She spends her days emailing, visiting organizations and artists, as well as adding and editing content to Calgary Art Development’s ever-growing online presence.

In her previous life, Kari was the long-standing events listings editor for Fast Forward Weekly (FFWD), and has been involved in the arts community for longer than she would like anyone to know.

When not overdosing on lattés, she can be found taking in Calgary’s vibrant arts scene, taking language and pottery classes, or watching European pro cycling.

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