Very few potters in the world do what Anna Roberts does.
And likely because of this her work goes largely unrecognized by mainstream collectors of ceramic art.
Roberts has been making pottery for 46 years this year — and while most traditional potters use raw clay and mix their own glazes, few can say they dig their own clay and glaze materials.
Roberts does exactly that — and from resources found right here in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
Her pots are also entirely hand made — no pottery wheel involved here — roll it into a slab and shape, pinch a pot, roll out long coils of clay and fuse them together.
Roberts concentrates primarily on using slabs of rolled out clay and shaping the slabs into bowls vases, plates. etc.
“Once again I have a studio full of slab-built pottery that will be displayed outside this weekend,” Roberts says.
“I use clay that I dig from several locations around the Cariboo. The final colour of the pottery varies according to the amount of iron in each clay deposit.
“For vases and planters I like to leave the outside the natural clay colour, glazing only the inside to make it water proof.”
These pots are fired to about 1,200 C so that the clay becomes vitrified or water tight.
“Another type of pottery that I enjoy making is burnished ware,” Roberts says. “For this I use the ancient technique of hand rubbing the partly dried clay with a small polished agate to produce a smooth, shiny surface. Then after a bisque firing to turn the clay into pottery, flames are allowed to flow around the pot, giving colour variations.”
To maintain the natural shine of the burnished surface these pieces have to be bisque fired at a relatively low temperature, Roberts says. Therefore burnished ware is quite porous and does not hold water. However, these sculptured pieces of pottery can be used for food such as fruit, for dry plant arrangements or just as ornaments.
The pots she makes resemble plants, seed-pods, trees for a reason.
“My work as a naturalist has influenced my use of natural forms, textures and colour in pottery-making,” Roberts says. “I often look for weathered wood, or channels in wood made by insects to make an interesting design on the clay. Sometimes after finding a design that interests me I hand-build a clay form that suits the pattern.
To locate Anna Roberts studio on the south shore of Williams Lake just follow the pottery signs at the end of South Lakeside Drive to 2202 Grebe Drive.