Grey Dipped Jug in Speckled Clay, $98. 5"D (base) x 8.5"h | Grey Dipped Cup in Speckled Clay, $40 ea. 3.5"D (base) x 4.25"h
We are beyond thrilled to welcome the recent arrival of beautiful handmade ceramics by Dahlhaus to our shop. We started working with Vancouver-based Heather Braun Dahl when Cambie first opened its doors as a brick and mortar store, more than two years ago. We adore following all of Heather's work on Instagram, where she often shares shots of her process and gives us a true appreciation for all of the love and labour that goes into creating each piece. We asked Heather a few questions about her work, see what she has to say!
What inspired you to first begin making ceramics?
My first year out of High School was spent practicing for a Violin exam and I wanted to take a couple of creative courses at the community college while I was practicing 5-6 hours a day. The teacher of the ceramics class was a local potter from my town so I thought I would enroll in Ceramics and also a painting class within the Fine Art Diploma program. The following year I was off to University and managed to find a community centre to keep practicing my wheel-throwing. I couldn't get enough of clay at that point so the following year, I went back to the college to actually enroll in the program. I eventually graduated from Emily Carr with a major in Ceramics and Painting in 2001.
What materials and tools do you use?
I use several types of clay - mostly porcelain and then a stoneware clay body that also has the option of having these lovely speckle of mangenese added in it. I mostly use wheel-throwing clay bodies and then have some pieces I slip-cast, so I also mix up porcelain slip regularly. My work often starts on the Potter's wheel - I've been throwing for 22 years so I'm quite comfortable creating new forms on the wheel. As for glazes, I have been mixing all my glazes and colours for years now. A special blend of stains makes the colours I gravitate towards. I know there are colour trends, but I just stick with what seems to suit me and my work, shifting and altering the colours as I feel necessary.
My glazing style is pretty unique to my work. For the patterned pots I am cutting out the patterns and then putting those on as resist stickers onto the pot before I add the glazes. Peeling off the stickers creates some space for another glaze colour so the patterns really lend themselves to be inspired by textiles. I have a love of vintage textiles, quilts, and weavings so these always seem to trickle into the content of the work.
How long do you typically spend on each piece?
Start to finish, ceramics is a pretty slow medium. There are so many steps, from kneading to throwing to trimming to drying and then to firing and glazing and firing again, that it's sometimes hard to quantify time. I think for myself the trickiest part is not to also quantify the time spent to get proficient as a maker. Having spent years honing my skill makes me a faster wheel-thrower and trimmer, not to mention the proficiency in glazing. The work takes about 3-4 weeks start-to-finish, and I handle each piece over 20 times.
Do your surroundings influence your creations?
For sure I have a West Coast aesthetic and colour palette. Traveling and vintage shopping are big inspirations for me. I'm usually in the home textiles isle at thrift stores, searching for weavings or tea towels or quilts. We recently took a trip to Central America so it felt exciting to look at traditional crafts there and be inspired by their use of patterns.
Do you have a favourite piece that you have created?
Every year I try to add a new collection of work that's inspired by my surroundings, so within that collection, I'll get really excited about certain pieces. I am loving the speckled stoneware work from the past couple of years, especially the geometric patterned prints and quilt patterns. The glazing for these pieces takes a really long time but it's always exciting to see them come out of the kiln.
LEFT: Blue Dipped Medium Canister, $65. 5.75"D (base) x 8"h | Yellow Dipped Mini Canister, $50. 4"D (base) x 5.5"h | Medium Patterned Vase, $100. 4.75"D (base) x 9"h
RIGHT: Tall Patterned Vase, $120. 5"D (base) x 10"h | Yellow Dipped Medium Canister, $65. 5.75"D (base) x 7.75"h
Turquoise Dipped Mini Canister, $50. 4"D (base) x 5.5"h | Turquoise Dipped Medium Canister, $65. 5.75"D (base) x 8"h