Potter enchanted by hands-on medium

Use of driftwood brings excitement to work

Ester Galac throws clay in her home studio while two of her finished works – a decorative bronze oval and a tea pot – sit on the edge of her potter's wheel.

Ester Galac is so passionate about pottery that she turned down a diamond ring as a 20th wedding anniversary gift from her husband, and opted instead for a potter’s wheel.

The 55-year-old Saanich resident first entered the pottery world more than two decades ago, after years of interest in the art but never having had an opportunity to set foot into that world.

“Our girls were taking ballet lessons at Cedar Hill. While waiting for them I was wandering through the halls and found the pottery studio. I was enchanted,” Galac recalls.

She took her first pottery class in 1989, but the timing wasn’t right to pursue the art – what with raising two daughters – so she didn’t return to pottery until 1999.

That’s when she took another class. And then another. And then another. And Galac has never looked back.

She’s now an active member of the South Vancouver Island Potters Guild, which is hosting its annual show and sale at the Fairfield Gonzales Community Place on June 16.

The bottom floor of Galac’s Gordon Head home is more or less reserved for her art.

She has her studio (where she throws the clay and forms the pieces), a kiln room, a glazing room and then a storage room with shelves full of funky homemade teapots, mugs, vases, plates and pitchers.

Each of Galac’s pieces is unique – playful, and evidently inspired by the nature that encompasses her home.

Though many of her pieces are functional, she points out a decorative bronzed oval, which she’s particularly proud of. She scours area beaches – Cordova Bay, French Beach – for kelp and driftwood to incorporate as handles and the like on her art.

“In today’s mass-produced world, when people buy handmade work, that brings different qualities and some excitement into your everyday,” Galac says. “The user can find the marks that the maker left behind.”

The Potters Guild is 70 members strong, 35 of whom will have their works on display and for sale at Clay Connects, the June 16 show.

Galac says the camaraderie shared by organizations like the guild are crucial for artists as they look to branch out and improve upon their skills.

“The clay makes the bond. But being part of a group was really important for my development,” she says. “Having other people who’ve had the same frustrations and failures through their art really helps to strengthen your resolve to stay and do more.”

The Clay Connects show and sale happens June 16 at 1335 Thurlow Rd. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on the South Vancouver Island Potters Guild visit victoriapotters.ca.