Quatsino Life — Navigating remote health care - part 1

By  Susan Mohler,  North Island Eagle,  Oct. 23 2020

Opening up a kiln to see how the clay has responded to glazing is like Christmas, says potter Deb Ryan.

“Sometimes you get a diamond, and sometimes you get socks.”

Deb was a secretary at North Island Secondary School for 25 years and retired in 2014.

She and her husband moved to Port McNeill from the Lower Mainland in 1976.

“We came ‘just for five years’ and stayed and brought up two sons here. I feel very fortunate to have moved up here.”

Deb started playing with clay about 10 years ago when Kathleen McArthur, who was the art teacher at NISS, let several of the staff use the art room one night a week. 

“She gave us a brief demo on the wheel and then let us go to it.  Kathleen passed away from cancer a few years ago, but I credit her with inspiring me to ‘give it a try … it’s just clay’”, said Deb.

Deb enjoyed pottery so much she invested in the tools of the trade.

She found a cheap used kiln and then a used homemade wheel from a lady in Port Hardy about seven years ago.  

“I think she was a retired doctor and I would like her to know that the wheel has given me such joy and is still being used. When I’m finished with it, I will pass it along.”

Deb says she is still learning and because there are so many different areas of pottery, she always will. 

“As long as I’m having fun and learning, I will keep playing. I have been very fortunate to have met some very wonderful potters who have shared techniques and many laughs.”

Deb does not practise a certain style of pottery, per se, and hopes her technique is something that evolves and changes over time.  

“I’m now working on throwing techniques to make items that wouldn’t also work as boat anchors,” she says. 

Her favourite part of the process is glazing. Pottery glazes are complex mixtures that fuse to pottery when placed in a kiln at high temperatures. Glazes are responsible for decorating the pottery and creating an attractive glossy surface that protects the pottery from wear and water.


Photo —Susan Mohler

The view from Susan Mohler’s Cambell River hospital room.

Crafting wire-wrapped jewellery leaves no stone unturned

By Kathy O’Reilly, North Island Eagle,  Oct. 23 2020

A trip to Arizona sparked interest in a new hobby for North Island resident Anne Newman – wire wrapping jewellery.

“I have always done crafts and dabbled in various jewellery,” says Anne. 

“However, we took a trip to Arizona during the 2010 Olympics. My husband Dick had a job at the Olympics in Whistler, so he left me on my own in Yuma for six weeks.”

Anne was recovering from heart surgery and looked for something she could do while she mended. 

“I discovered a lady who gave classes on wire wrapping. Then I realized one of our travelling friends was an expert and we would do work together. So, I was gifted with great people to learn from,” Anne said.

She was so enthusiastic about wire wrapping “I pretty much gave up all but one other craft. I still love to quilt.”

My greatest joy is when someone actually likes it.”

Anne wire wraps cabochons which are gemstones that are shaped and polished to be a dome on the top and are usually flat on the bottom.

“My husband has been able to create some of the cabochons for me by cutting and polishing and then I use sterling silver, copper or 14 carat gold fill wire to wrap them and make them into a pendant,” she said. 

“My greatest joy is when someone actually likes it.”

What the finished pendant looks like is determined by the cabochon itself.

“My creative process is just what the cab says to me. I never know how it will turn out. They seem to have a mind of their own,” said Anne, which ensures each piece is one of a kind.

Photo —Kathy O'Reilly

Cluxewe resident Anne Newman had her wire-wrapped cabochons for sale at the Port McNeill Farmers & Artisans Market Oct. 10.


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