Sarah Pike

I started this journey with clay as a child making clay frogs and heavy bowls at an art centre in Vancouver. At 14, I bussed tables to buy my first kiln. I attended Alberta College of Art and Design with intentions of being a painting major, but one first-year class in ceramics brought me back to my earthy beginnings. There is something extremely engaging about immersing your hands in clay and all its processes, its tactile nature, its rainy scent, its infinite possibilities.

After college, I taught art classes with the City of Calgary Art Centres while making pots after hours. I left Alberta and headed south to Boulder as a special student at the University of Colorado. This allowed me to make a lot of pots, use incredible kilns, take a graduate art theory class, and make some life-long connections. I came back to Calgary, taught clay classes and accepted a position as ceramic technician at North Mount Pleasant Art Centre. The lure of school called to me again, and I headed down to Minneapolis where I was accepted into my dream graduate program in an environment steeped in pottery history and tradition. More pots, more great kilns and more amazing people.

I came back to Alberta, to my fiancé and our ranch and began a family. I started Red Barn Clay Company where I taught clay classes to all ages and levels. I made pots in our big red barn, grew a garden and helped with the cattle, but the mountains of BC were calling, so we sold up the farm and headed west to Fernie. We bought an acre in West Fernie two and half years ago and haven’t looked back. The beauty, the friendly people, and the support for the arts in this community continually awe us.

While we renovated our house, I made pots at the amazing Arts Station (we are so fortunate to have a place like this!) where I met some of Fernie’s local artists and art enthusiasts. Once our renos were somewhat completed, I moved into my home studio, where I now make pots with the sounds of family chaos echoing above me. Eventually, we will build a working studio/shop here on the property and get one of those little artisan signs on the highway. Since moving here, we have hosted an annual Christmas Art Sale at our home the first weekend of December with three other artists. It has been an incredibly welcoming experience getting to know Fernie in this way.

I currently have pots in two places in town, Clawhammer Letterpress and Gallery carries my larger, more decorative pieces and Naked Earth Pottery carries my functional ware. In the New Year, I’m looking forward to collaborating with Michael Hepher at Clawhammer on a project that will use his letter texture and pattern on some of my larger clay forms. At Naked Earth Pottery, Kerri Holmes and I are thrilled to be resident artists for the next few months, making pots in the lovely studio there, and meeting more Fernie community.

I have a lot of pots, my own and a collection of other potter’s work. I enjoy pottery that conveys personality, a slight air of attitude, that first step off the path. In that vein, my pots are never entirely symmetrical, as though they are leaning towards animation. One teapot leans into its ultimate pour, a cream jug leans back in a state of resistance. A cup sways off kilter like a half bottle of wine in the system. I like this static sense of energy in pottery. It evokes the plastic nature of clay in its raw form but also the movement associated with the finished pot’s intended use. It reflects our beauty and awkward imperfections; imperfections that celebrate the handmade object over mass-produced, industrial ware. A little wabi-sabi on the table, shelf or in the hand.

All this clay talk has me aching to get back in the studio. I’m getting a kick out of this mug form that I am working on right now. It is sort of short and wide and holds a nice foamy latte. It has a little-tough-guy personality… a great way to start a Monday.