Anna Roberts (right) shows budding potter Caterina Geuer how to prepare local clay to make a pottery sculpture by hand. Roberts will hold her annual open studio show and sale Friday

Anna Roberts (right) shows budding potter Caterina Geuer how to prepare local clay to make a pottery sculpture by hand. Roberts will hold her annual open studio show and sale Friday

Anna Roberts mentors potters in use of local clays

Consider checking out Anna Roberts’ annual pottery show and sale the last Friday and Saturday of the month.

In case you are looking for something special to do around Williams Lake at the end of September, consider checking out Anna Roberts’ annual pottery show and sale the last Friday and Saturday of the month.

Anna has been producing pottery from local clay for more than 50 years.

“Once again I have a studio full of hand-built pottery that will be displayed outside my studio at 2202 Grebe Drive,” she says.

Shortly after arriving in the Cariboo in 1958, Anna discovered that the area has good clay for making pottery. Five decades later, she still digs her own clay around the Cariboo.

Preparation of the clay she has collected is quite labour-intensive. First it must be washed and screened to remove organic material and stones. Then each batch must be tested for its colour.

When she first started working with clay, Anna used a wheel for her bowls, pots and cups. Now she hand-builds all her creations.

For some of her pots or bowls she only glazes the interior to make them waterproof, leaving the outsides unglazed to show the interesting colours of local iron-bearing clays.

One of Anna’s trademarks is to decorate the outsides of her pots with designs made from nature. She imprints them with pieces of weathered wood or bark chewed by insects.

She also makes burnished ware, finishing them off in an outside fire to give colour variations. These signature Anna pieces are highly prized by art collectors.

“I took numerous workshops that were brought to the area by the Cariboo Potters Guild, and I developed my own techniques through experimentation, trial and error,” she says.

Anna helped found the Cariboo Potters Guild in the 1967 with a group of other potters, and served as the Guild’s first president.

The Guild started after renowned Cariboo artist Vivien Cowan invited acclaimed potter, Zelko Kujundzic, to give pottery workshops to members of the Sugar Cane community. She asked Anna to be Kujundzic’s assistant.

“One of my responsibilities was to bring the participants from the Sugar Cane village to the Onward Ranch where Vivien lived,” Anna remembers.

After success with the residents of Sugar Cane, Anna turned her attention to the community of Williams Lake and struck fertile ground. The response was overwhelming and 30 people signed up for a workshop with Kujundzic.

Two workshops were required to accommodate all the people.

Anna continues to work steadily in her studio overlooking Williams Lake, sharing her time and passing on her skills to a select group of apprentices.

Her one-of-a-kind show and sale will take place during the daylight hours on Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26. As in past years her work will be displayed outdoors near her studio. overlooking Williams Lake.

Anna’s place at 2202 Grebe Drive, is seven kilometres down South Lakeside Drive from the Highway 20 intersection. It’s the first driveway to the left after crossing the railway tracks.

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