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Firing on all creative cylinders
After a 30-year break from sculpting, ceramic artist Steve Wry wants to show Sequim his sense of the world though different styles of pottery.
Wry joined the Blue Whole Gallery four months ago and in October becomes a featured artist with a special event at the First Friday Art Walk on Oct. 7.
He’ll exhibit a variety of his Raku and aluminum foil saggar pots, and keepsake boxes and banks. Raku pottery was developed in 16th-century Japan as hand-formed pieces for the tea ceremony, with no two pieces alike. The American style became prominent in the 1960s.
Stylistically, aluminum foil saggars are a cross between pit firing and Raku pottery.
“Although my pieces may seem to have a serious side to them, I try to approach each piece with an element of whimsy and a fervent desire to not take myself or my work too seriously,” Wry said.
Some of his best-sellers are the imaginative banks and boxes that feature creatures and wild designs.
Wry said making foil and Raku pieces is more for his own personal enjoyment.
After graduating college, he started a functional pottery business making dinnerware sets and planters, while doing commissions. He’d visit various festivals but found tastes and items that sold fluctuated too much.
His back later gave out and he became tired of chasing craft fairs so he took a 30-year break from pottery.
“I wasn’t interested in that kind of thing anymore,” Wry said.
He retired in Sequim a few years ago and met another potter who piqued his interest in the art again.
Wry said he didn’t anticipate selling his art but work started piling up and his wife encouraged him to pursue it again.
Keepsake boxes and banks became his biggest sellers through the gallery.
He’s always made banks but never as elaborate as the ones featured in the gallery.
Raku has been in his repertoire, too, since college but it didn’t sell, he said.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Wry said. “People find the pieces amusing. Whimsical is the word most people use.”
His pottery routine isn’t as rigid as it once was after college. Wry might spend 12 hours at a time working and take a day or two off. He waits for the mood and moment to hit him.
“Because I don’t do functional ware, I consider them works of art rather than crafts,” Wry said. “Art doesn’t need to be equated with craft. I don’t consider myself a craft person, but a sculptor.”
He finds potters are split between functional ware and artisan work.
“With the 1950s and 1960s abstract art movement, pottery and clay moved away from craft and sold as works of art rather than functional pieces,” Wry said.
“It’s something potters had to overcome over the years rather than painters who have always been considered fine artists … Being accepted as a fine artist, it’s a nice thing.”
Contact the Blue Whole Gallery, 129 W. Washington St., at 681-6033 or visit www.bluewholegallery.com.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.