Despite the wind and rain on Saturday, June 13, artists came out in force to occupy Main Street and show off their work to interested art fans and stampede parade goers.
Patricia Lansdell-Denholm and Sandy Roenspies set up in the courtyard in front of the Coffee Tree and were the only two artists to set up on that part of the 50 Street.
“I’ve only been painting for a bit more than two years,” Roenspies said. The artwork on display was predominantly that of landscapes inspired by northern Alberta.
“My husband’s aunt is an artist in Saskatchewan, so I had a lot of influence from them,” she noted.
Lansdell-Denholm was set up next to Roenspies, showing off her hand-thrown pottery.
“I’ve been working with pottery for 25 years,” she said. “I always loved it, working with clay.”
She took some lessons and that was all it took for the love to burst into a passion, she said, and she’s been making and selling her work since then.
One of the things she truly loves to do with her work is carve designs into the clay before it hardens.
During the “leather-hard” stage – where the clay is still soft but it’s firmed up enough to keep the design – Lansdell-Denholm will carve in patterns that will emphasize the piece, or imprint objects like leaves into the clay, leaving behind the pattern of stem, vein and leaf-edge.
She works two types of pottery – hand-thrown on a pottery wheel or slab pottery, and sources all her clay from clay deposits in Medicine Hat, keeping her work local as well.
She uses a finer clay with less sand, allowing for more delicate, porcelain-like finishes, and a sandier and grittier clay for her more rustic pieces.
Lansdell-Denholm said that each of her pieces can take up to weeks to finish, depending on the size, because the clay needs time to dry thoroughly before it is fired, the term for the baking of the clay in an oven.
“It can take two to three weeks to dry depending on the size,” she said, holding up a wide dish to display. “This dried for about three weeks before I fired it.”
The first firing is called a bisque firing, and is used to completely dry and harden the clay into its form. Once that’s done, Lansdell-Denholm glazes it, usually with glazes she has created herself.
That dries the glaze and makes it completely safe for use as food dishes.
The thing that impressed the artists the most was how the residents of the community, and surrounding communities, braved the weather to come out.
“They’re coming out and they’re staying out,” Roenspies said. “That’s really great.”