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WACK Studio Tour

Creative cross-pollination

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WHAT: WACK Studio Tour
WHEN: 10am-5pm Sept. 24-26
WHERE: Bellingham, Ferndale, and Lynden
COST: Free
INFO: http://www.whatcomartistsofclayandkiln.org

WHAT: “Bowls to Fill”
WHEN: Through September
WHERE: Good Earth Pottery, 1000 Harris Ave.
INFO: http://www.goodearthpots.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Deb McCunn is well aware of the power of clay. As the president of the Whatcom Artists of Clay and Kiln (WACK) she’s in contact with approximately 60 other members who share her passion for the malleable medium. While her own work focuses on playful garden sculptures known to sneak in social commentary, she says her artistic horizons have greatly expanded by interacting with ceramic artists from different generations and backgrounds. At the inaugural WACK Studio Tour taking place Sept. 24-26 throughout Whatcom County, this creative cross-pollination will be on display for all to see.

Cascadia Weekly: This is the first time WACK will be doing a standalone studio tour. What was the impetus?

Deb McCunn: In the past, WACK hosted the Clay Extravaganza at Depot Market Square, where the public could sit down at a potter’s wheel and give it a try, shop for pottery and watch clay competitions. WACK also has a history with “Empty Bowls,” where artists donated bowls, local restaurants donated soup, and the public paid $20 for a handmade bowl with soup and bread. All proceeds went to the Bellingham Food Bank.

Both events attracted large crowds that just didn’t feel safe during COVID. So, our intent was to offer a safer, small-scale clay experience. Many studios will have outdoor activities and masks are required at all locations. My studio, Baker Creek Ceramics, has a large garage door we’ll keep open for air flow. People can come and try out a potter’s wheel. On Saturday and Sunday, we’ll be demonstrating raku (an ancient Japanese firing technique). This is a safer way for the public to experience clay culture and support local artists.

CW: Isn’t there also a WACK display at Good Earth Pottery this month?

DM: Yes, “Bowls to Fill.” WACK artists created bowls that are now in the window at Good Earth. Folks can stop by through September and purchase a bowl. A portion of the proceeds will go to the food bank. In addition, WACK purchased gift certificates from all the restaurants who have supported “Empty Bowls” in the past. A $2 raffle ticket will give you a chance to win a set of handmade bowls plus a $25 gift certificate at one of our local restaurants. All the proceeds from the raffle will benefit the food bank.

CW: What do you hope people take away from these events?

DM: Inspiration and pride in our community! I hope our neighbors will see how many creative ceramic artists live right here in Whatcom County. For example, Brian O’Neill has had work in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Our clay community is creating hand-decorated tableware, original custom tiles, and thought-provoking sculptures. 

We are also fortunate to have amazing ceramic instructors including Lonnie Schang at Sehome High School, Ann Marie DeCollibus who taught in Ferndale and at Bellingham High School, and Rob Beishline and Ene Lewis at Whatcom Community College. They have nurtured decades of ceramic artists resulting in the vibrant clay community you see today.

The tour represents the versatility of clay. It’s a fantastic way to shop local and keep money in our local economy. Amazon doesn’t need any more of your money.

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