I'm sitting at a potter's wheel, trying to muster the delicate touch required to throw clay. I can see the vase in my mind's eye. The rhythmic spinning of the wheel is almost therapeutic and the clay feels cool and supple in my hands - until it wobbles out of control and my creation returns to a formless lump. Okay…let's try for a basic bowl this time. I grin in spite of myself. Pottery is hard work but it's fun.
I am not alone in my love of craft. More and more people are seeking out made-by-hand creations. Whether you're a collector or a budding artisan like me, the Alberta craft scene is where it's at.
When I'm looking for eye candy, I wander the galleries of Edmonton's Alberta Craft Council – solely dedicated to exhibiting local craft art – to see top works in clay, fibre, glass, metal, stone and wood. It is very easy to laze away a whole afternoon here – the Council represents more than 450 Alberta artisans.
Whether on holiday or at home, I love shopping for one-of-a-kind pieces. Galleries and studios throughout Alberta offer members' works for sale. More than once I've found just the perfect gift while browsing the aisles at Galleria in Calgary, a shop that sells a staggering collection of pottery, glass works and wood creations.
And you can't go wrong with a craft fair. Two of the biggest are Make It! The Handmade Revolution in Edmonton and Art Market in Calgary. Both happen annually and feature the work of top Canadian craftspeople. One of my local favourites is the Heritage Christmas Art Market in Medicine Hat.
For a lot of us, it's not enough to see or spend – we want to try it ourselves. Just about every city and town in Alberta has craft guilds and pottery associations offering workshops and classes, so check your local listings. There's lots of helpful info on the Alberta Craft Council website and through The Alberta Potters Association.
One of my newest passions is all about fabric and fibre. The Heritage Weavers and Spinners Guild in Calgary is a treasure trove of exhibits, special shows, study groups and workshops in fibre arts - everything from beginner weaving, spinning and dyeing to sock knitting. Sign me up!
Do it All
For a truly all-in experience, you have to visit Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat. This place is the granddaddy of pottery and ceramics in Alberta. They've been creating treasure for more than 100 years. Rub shoulders with the artists in residence, tour the museum and then sit yourself down with a great slippery mass of clay and have some fun.