Poplar Studio Upcoming Events

Friday, May 12, 2017

Granville Island Clay Glaze

Back in Oct of 2014 I was walking from our studio on Granville Island over to the market to grab a snack when I noticed diggers working in one of the parking lots.  It turned out they were putting in new lamp posts and needed to dig several feet down.  I went over to take a look and noticed chunks of  clay amongst the piles of shell and sand.  Granville Island used to be a sandbar that was used for fishing and harvesting shell fish.http://granvilleislandworks.com/about/history-of-granville-island
We already use a clay (slip) glaze made from clay we dug out in the Fleetwood area of Surrey so I've been on the lookout on G.I. for several years. Unfortunately, the maintenance crew never seemed to dig low enough to strike clay.
I took a little piece and worked it a bit in my hands as I walked to the shop where Don Hutchinson was working.  He spent much of his career sourcing and testing local materials all across Canada but mostly British Columbia so I figured he'd be a good person to consult.  We both determined it looked very promising so I went back and gathered a few bags of the cleanest pieces I could find over the next few days.
Doing small tests is the best method to proceed so over the last year and a bit we've been working to come up with a recipe that will give us a good melt and a surface free from crazing.  The hardest part has been screening out all the sticks, sand, rocks and shells.  Lot's of shells! We are very pleased with the results so far.  It has a satiny, soap stone like surface and fires from a blue gray to this more beige brown.  I look forward to seeing how and if it changes depending on location in the kiln, thickness and in it's proximity to other glazes.  We currently have a decent supply but I have friends in the maintenance dept. on the lookout for me if they ever stick in to anymore. 
Mug with G.I. clay glaze and a lip dip of ash glaze.  The ash glaze is made using apple wood ash from the Sand Bar Restaurant on Granville Island.
The pendant is the brown version of the G.I. clay.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


(robots battling planned obsolescence) 

Clay robots have been marching about in my mind for many years now.  I see them as a natural progression from Fantastic Service and the rocketship series.  With encouragement from friends I realized it was time to get them out of my head and into reality. The idea here is to tell the stories of brave robots that have desperately attempted to stay relevant in our world of almost instantly obsolete technology by scavenging parts drilling new ports and hoarding potentially use full bits.
This post is little glimpse into the production of the first 2 characters off my small assembly line. 
All parts are thrown with a grogged cone 6 B-mix.  The main head shape was a large closed off form cut in half.
Silent but extremely observant.
Making the holes and ports with 10 to 15 % shrinkage in mind was a bit of a challenge.
Thinking about what tech elements to add and why has proven to be one of my favorite parts of the process.
Glazed and ready to be fired.
Gluing the bits in place.
Somewhat terrifying rear view.
When I find the right venue for a show I will let you know.  Suggestions welcome.  These two are currently available for purchase at the Kingsmill shop on Granville Island.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pretty pictures of the potters pottering about.

I meant to do this post back in January, but I got busy with all of the other things that January got full of. Two lovely photographers, Ester Bueno and our friend Adele Thomas both asked if they could come by while we were at the Kingsmill Shop and take pictures of us working. Ester is working on a project photographing all kinds of artists and artisans in their workspaces and Adele is doing a project called My 366 Project where she has challenged herself to post a picture a day for a year.
Here is Adele's picture of us, we were January 4th:

We met Adele and her partner Carlo Ricci through Keith's brother Carson who volunteered with them at Pisco Sin Fronteras in Peru. They both do wonderful photography and film. They made the video on the Pisco homepage. Carson thought we'd get along because we are all the kind of crazy that thinks living for months on the road in an intermittently reliable old orange VW is an excellent way to go travelling, and he was right! They did 50,000 kms from South America to Vancouver and documented it gorgeously on their sites as "The Long Way Up".

Ester Bueno came in over a couple of days and photographed both of us as we worked. It was a good way to get your picture taken, I thought. Just ignore the camera and keep working! It's interesting to see your process afterwards through someone else's eyes. I am so glad she caught that awesome trimming spiral and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing her pictures of other artisans at work.

Keith working on a pierced vase form

 Keith attaching legs to a rocketship sugar jar.

Carole trimming a bowl.

Carole trimming a bowl.

We are at the Kingsmill Shop for a couple more days, until the 7th, please drop and say "hi" if you're down on Granville Island!

Monday, September 5, 2011

CABC Auction

The Crafts Association of BC is hosting it's annual fundraising event in support of educational and regional programing for artists by hosting a 1920's style party and craft auction.
Check out the CABC homepage for details and ticket info.
There are over 70 pieces in the auction, beautiful works from artists all over the province, including this piece of Keith's.
Ishihara Platter by Keith Lehman

Bob Kingsmill, Don Hutchinson and Darlene Nairne from the Kingmill Shop also have pieces in the auction. You can see the whole gallery here.

Keith is at the shop until the 7th, so pop in and say 'hi' if you are down on the Island.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Upcoming Summer Events

We have markets and festivals coming up fast! It's non-stop glazing, firing, ware and drum-making time down here at the ol' Poplar Studio!
First up: The Harmony Arts Festival. It runs: Friday, July 29 from 4–9 and  Saturday, July 30; Sunday, July 31  and Monday, August 1 from 10–9. We will be in booth #11, sharing with jeweller Marnie Burton.

Also, check out the promo video featuring some of the participating artisans.

The next Saturday, August 6th we have our first date at the Trout Lake Farmer's Market. We will be sharing a booth with the lovely and talented Stephanie Menard. Carole will be there with a selection of cuddle cups, scrambowls, some of our new dotty-ware and more!

August 1-7 is our week at the Kingsmill Studio Pottery Shop. Keith will probably be polishing up some big beautiful Poddrums, getting ready for...

The Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival; Saturday, August 13th! We are very excited to be vending at a music festival again! We used to go regularly to the North Country Fair, but it's been a while. This one is waaay closer to home, and only one day. Headliners include K.D Lang, John Mayall and Imelda Mae. It should be a great day!

Whew! Then maybe we'll take a little break and go camping.
Have a wonderful Summer and we hope to see you out there in the sun somewhere!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


For the month of May, the Gallery of BC Ceramics is hosting a fun members show called Spottery. The only requirement was that each piece entered had to have at least one dot. Since I'm a bit dot crazy as it is, this show was right up my alley.
Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by the colour blindness test created by Japanese Dr. Shinobu Ishihara . Thankfully I am not colour blind but I had a high school friend who was and I often wondered what it must be like. I'm also just attracted to colourful dots in a dot to be honest. Carole and I have been collaborating on a series of dishes we call Dotty Bowls and watching her put bands of dots around the rims made me want to see the whole inside of the dish covered with them. I started thinking about the test plates again and realized that with our extensive glaze palette I could probably pull one off. Whether it would actually work or not I didn't know but I decided give it a shot regardless. I threw some large 18" platters and then several smaller bowls for testing on. The whole process from start to finish has taken about 3 or 4 months and seems to have been quite successful. It wasn't without its issues however. I had no idea how long it would take to do the dots on the large pieces, or how much it would hurt my arm and shoulder to hold it in that position while applying thousands of glaze blobs. People think pottery is so relaxing! There was also some trouble with glaze blistering on the first big bowl, but firing it again with a 40 min soak at cone 6 solved that issue. It washed the colours out a little but at least the glaze was properly melted. Next time I'll try soaking at cone 5 for 20 min. I also learned through my friend Jody's colour blind Dad that the pieces actually do work as colour blindness tests! "I don't see anything. Your Mom says she sees a five." Thanks Jody's Dad!

The show runs from April 30 till May 29 down on Granville Island at the GBCC


Friday, March 25, 2011

recent studio shots

Some recent work.

Collaboration Dotty bowls

New batch of handle bowls.

Chatter dishes

Waiting for their glass jackets.

Holey bowls with inserts