A steady stream of strangers through her home studio doesn’t faze potter Sandi Madsen. She’s already done it six times before and will again this year as part of the 13th annual Oak Bay artists’ studio spring tour.
“People are interested in how you work a kiln, how you work the wheel,” Madsen says about what visitors ask when they visit her studio, in an underground former garage in her Oak Bay home.
Madsen, who has been working with clay since her late teens, explains to visitors that the kiln is a round oven with electric coils sandwiched between concrete-like bricks that heats to 2,200 degrees F. Pots, mugs and any of the many items Madsen builds are stacked on shelves inside the kiln. The whole process, from first throwing the clay on the wheel to final glaze takes about three to four weeks.
One of the best parts of the process comes while manipulating the clay, Madsen says.
“It’s the ability to lose yourself, to become thoughtful and think about things in the process of making” that keeps her intrigued, she says. “I don’t get up and say ‘Today I’m making a bowl.’ You put the clay on the wheel, feel clay in your hands and think about who’s going to be using it and create from that.”
Madsen learned to pot in Vancouver, where she grew up. Although she had a day job working in social services, since moving to Oak Bay seven years ago she’s been a full-time potter. She sells from her home and also in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Organized by Oak Bay Parks and Recreation, Oak Bay studio tours are held twice a year in the spring and fall. Twenty artists and artisans, including visual artists, printmakers, porcelain painters and potters are taking part in the two-day spring tour, set for Saturday and Sunday April 14 and 15, noon to 4:30 p.m. To download a map of the tour along with artist bios go to recreation.oakbaybc.org and click on Events.