Kay Austen

"What Matters Clay is my material, my medium; it’s what matters To me. The constant in my life. My message……. Clay is my matter: I have molded it for over 50 years, and I’m still not done. The image of the thing that only I can see…. Flits in front of me. As I work, clay is heavy in my hands, And yet pliable, responsive…ready. Daily I come to it, ideas a whirl of insects above a quiet pond. Clay is what matters; My mind is still. Post Secondary Education 2 years Foundation Course. Medway College of Art and Design, U.K. 3 years Bachelor of Arts. University of Wolverhampton. U.K. 1 Year Post Graduate Teaching Certificate, Sussex University. U.K. Statement I am a contemporary B.C. potter, living and working in the stunningly scenic community of Squamish, halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. I start with strong wheel thrown or hand built forms, based on classic historical or traditional shapes. Through altering either in an unobtrusive and subtle way, or radically changing the whole shape through cutting and reforming, each piece takes on a direction and rhythm uniquely its own. The emotional impact of colour and the vagaries of different methods of firing and surface treatment all play a part toward the power of the finished piece." - Kay Austen

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Obvara Raku

Obvara Raku, which is sometimes called Baltic Raku, involves hot pots being taken out of a kiln and then quickly dunked into a fermented liquid, which is made from water, flour, yeast, and sugar.

"A Raku firing takes place outdoors. And usually, it's a mobile kiln — ours is just an oil drum," said potter Kay Austen, who first got into pottery about 50 years ago. She said in addition to being dipped into the liquid, pots can also be plunged into materials that create flame and smoke, such as sawdust or old newspapers. "Plunging the very hot pottery into materials, which either flame or spatter is not only exciting visually, but it also creates unique surfaces on each piece which cannot be duplicated or made in any other way," she told The Squamish Chief. "Because the pieces are removed from the kiln every 20 minutes to half an hour when they have reached temperature, several firings take place in an afternoon." Raku firing is a visually interesting activity, thus the demonstration, Austen said. "It is, if you like, a spectator sport," she said. "There's lots of action — people running around with these red hot pots on the ends of tongs and doing things with them. So, it's a bit of a dance between people coming and going, and it is pretty exciting to watch." Not to mention the unique designs that result from the process.