Ottawa Guild of Potters’ first Ottawa Clay Festival
By Nancy Riggs
The Ottawa Guild of Potters (OGP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. Many special events are planned in celebration, including the first Ottawa Clay Festival, a spring celebration with fun for everyone.
The Ottawa Clay Festival will be held on May 5-7 at the Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park. The Clay Festival expands upon the OGP’s annual spring pottery sale and annual juried exhibition, which have been popular spring events for years. This first-time festival will feature fascinating pottery demonstrations, a fun pottery throw down, a kids’ clay area and a raku demonstration (weather permitting). Watching the demonstrations, cheering on your favourite throw-down potter and letting the kids’ work in clay may even inspire a new potter or two.
And if you don’t know what raku is, you’re in for a treat! This traditional Japanese technique is fascinating to watch, as pots are removed from the kiln while red hot and plunged into combustibles like sawdust, creating beautiful and unpredictable finishes.
Live music and a coffee area will liven the festival atmosphere while you browse the displays and mingle with the makers in the heritage Horticulture Building.
“The Clay Festival is about sharing our love of clay and some of the variety of ways that pottery is made, in a fun atmosphere,” explained OGP president Natalie Gosselin. “We are proud of the 50-year history of our guild and the first Ottawa Clay Festival will be one of the highlights of our anniversary year. We are grateful to the Ottawa pottery lovers who come out to our events, and we look forward to welcoming new pottery lovers of all ages to the festival,” she continued.
The festival gets underway Friday, May 5, with jurying of the annual exhibition and the awarding of prizes to the winning potters in categories such as Best Sculptural Work, Best Decorated and Peoples’ Choice. Juror Angelo di Petta is an award-winning artist who will judge the entries of many talented potters who create functional and sculptural works that will captivate you.
The annual Spring Pottery Sale also opens on Friday afternoon, with fresh work by potters who have participated in OGP sales before, along with some new and exciting potters whose work is just getting known. Admission is free for all events, all weekend.
The Ottawa Guild of Potters has been an important part of the pottery community in Ottawa since 1973.
Fun fact: the OGP has been associated with the Glebe Community Centre since the very beginning, holding its first sale there in 1976. They continue to host their annual Great Bowls of Fire fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank at GCC, with the most recent one on March 25 this year.
Nancy Riggs makes her pottery at the Glebe Community Centre Pottery Studio. She is communications co-chair for the Ottawa Guild of Potters.
Date and Times:
Friday 3 to 9pm
Saturday 10am to 6pm
Sunday 10am to 5pm
Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park
Free admission, all welcome