Glenmore: clay potter Brian Wiebe says he feels a calling towards the art form that he has chosen to pursue.

Clay pot advocate trumpets the value of good earth

Brian Wiebe calls his latest vocation his clay epic, although the term hardly covers the all-consuming passion that’s taken over his Glenmore home.

Brian Wiebe calls his latest vocation his clay epic, although the term hardly covers the all-consuming passion that’s taken over his Glenmore home.

On his walls is a mixture of homemade yogurt—the German kind known as Kefir—a fermented fruit paste and clay dug out of veins in the family orchard.

It melds together to form a solid wall covering, much like greenware pottery or, for those who spend a good deal of time in Glenmore, the clay muck strangling the carrots and creating a mess on the driveway.

“It’s almost like a living breathing membrane in your house that’s modulating all the time. So I found that incredibly cool,” explains Wiebe.

“It’s like a natural heat exchange where it’s always absorbing heat and always releasing it.”

Those who believe in using clay, rather than paint, on one’s walls say the earthen substance releases positive ions into the air and that the fermented mixture of fruit or wine can be used to create a mood in the room.

Wiebe can’t say whether this is true or not—though he is very sold on the final product.

The clay walls aren’t the half of what’s going on in this house, however.  The audio engineer’s basement is also filled, wall to wall, with ancient-style pottery he’s made from that same clay he dug out of the backyard.

“It’s about cradling the Okanagan nectar in the very ground that gave it life,” said Wiebe. “There’s something about that I find charming.”

Charming and a little overwhelming at the moment. In preparation for the upcoming Candesca concert at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Oct. 8, Wiebe has produced some 150 pots to be displayed on the stage and sold in the foyer.

Whether one uses his tall pots for wine or water or simply to display, he says his art has little to do with those who will buy it, it’s more like a calling.

Still, he’s looking forward to finding out whether others share his passion.

“It’s kind of a clay quest,” he said. “I’ve always been an ancient stuff kind of guy. I was probably born 3,500 years too late and that’s why I’m drawn to this kind of thing now—or ruined by it, whatever you want to say.”

By and large, most potters aren’t that keen on using clay unearthed in the backyard and Wiebe has plenty of examples of why.

The organic matter, or dirt, that might be mixed in will crack when the product finally makes it to the kiln and, unfortunately, the artist doesn’t know about the fatal flaws until the firing is complete and the giant oven opens to reveal what’s survived.

Wiebe has had a few horrifying surprises. His first ventures were downright traumatic from his description; even getting to the kiln stage was difficult.

“Nobody does old, tall jars and then I realized why—‘cause they’re really hard to pull,” he said. “It takes a tremendous amount of strength and you really have to know how to use your body intelligently.”

Wiebe has a masters degree in ancient languages. His pottery guru is an ancient history instructor named Ken Guenter, who can spend an evening throwing plates and walk away with a complete set.

He’s the one who told the aspiring artist he needed to start with plates and mugs, like any other potter. It took five years before he could pursue his true passion and it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Armed with a handful of brilliant YouTube videos and an apparently unending amount of patience, Wiebe set to work learning his craft and said that in some ways, the dreaded cracks became pleasant quirks when the jug is held.

“You can do everything right and there’s still a surprise waiting for you eventually,” he said.

“It’s like learning golf or something. I mean you have your gleaming moments, but at some point you have to modulate your expectations knowing that there is way more to it than it looks.”

Wiebe experiments with the ancient Hebrew and Cuneiform language he studied in school on the sides of his pots, replicating the artifacts he spent more than two years unearthing on archeology digs.

Without millions of dollars or a black market source, this is his best attempt at celebrating those time periods and the civilizations he’s dedicated his life to learning about.

“I knew I was going to be trying to celebrate these forms of life and have them around me. When you live those kinds of dreams—the ancient Mesopotamia, the Bronze Age, those sorts of things—you’re somewhat ruined for life,” he said.

To see Wiebe’s beloved pots check out his web site at www.solarnesters.com.

The pots will be sold in the Kelowna Community Theatre at Candesca’s upcoming concert Oct. 8, 7 p.m.

 

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Giants ground Rockets in WHL action

Vancouver builds early lead, never looks back in 6-1 win at Langley Events Centre

Kelowna author promoting life-changing book

Book signing event at Chapters Sunday of long-awaited Runaway Trilogy of life-changing maxims

Pedestrian hit at ‘dangerous’ Kelowna cross walk

Emergency officials responded to a cross walk that neighbours say is unsafe Saturday evening

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

LIVE: BC Liberals kick off leadership debate in Nanaimo

Candidates’ forum is at noon at Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Pen High Lakers make strong showing against KSS Owls

Penticton Lakers fought hard through to final set

Gallery celebrates long history of art appreciation

Gallery Odin, at Silver Star Mountain, is gearing up to open their 16th annual Winter Exhibition

WATCH: Thousands gathering in Abbotsford for Const. John Davidson funeral procession

Celebration of life to follow at Abbotsford Centre at 1 p.m.

Warriors end seven-game road slide with win in P.G.

West Kelowna bounces back from lopsided loss to the Vees a night earlier with victory over Kings

Mellof, Koffski top Superleague of Curling

Stolairus Aviation sits at 4-0, while Raymond James is 4-1 in Kelowna Curling Club action

Back-to-back wins for the Vees this weekend

Penticton Vees take down Capitals 10-1

Giants stop Rockets’ 4-game winning streak

Vancouver scored four first-period goals to down Kelowna in WHL action.

Most Read