Katherine King is a ceramic artist who specializes in functional ware and is a graduate of Sheridan College in Toronto. As Hintonburg Pottery's Lead Technician, with a strong foundation in all things 'kiln', she enjoys teaching wheel classes and handbuilding.
Katherine's skillful knowledge and devoted practices are an inspiration to all of us here in the studio. It is a magical experience to watch her throw pots on the wheel. Her gentle and calming expertise is well received with all of our students ranging from beginner to intermediate.
What is your background and how did you get into the world of creating and teaching the art of pottery?
My Mom encouraged me, signing me up for a pottery summer course at the Nepean Visual Arts Centre, when I was too young to work. She’s always been pushing me, she really liked being creative herself and did stained glass before she had kids, but found pottery to be more kid-friendly! As soon as I touched the clay, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I won the Achievement Ceramic Award from John McCrae Secondary School and graduated from Sheridan College in 2012. I worked at Gleason Brook Pottery in Wiarton, as a production potter in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island and at Gloucester Pottery School for a few years, before joining Hintonburg Pottery as an instructor in 2017.
I started teaching Spin The Wheel workshops and was hired as an evening teacher for two years. I had a following and used to teach at night in different locations, but it was hard to travel across the city multiple times per week, so I also started to teach during the day.
In March 2019, I joined Hintonburg Pottery as the Lead Technician, which involves studio maintenance, kiln firing, glaze making, production pottery and class work that needs to be done. I also run studio potter clinics and teach a couple of adult classes each week–I feel I have a lot of knowledge to share.
How has you work and artistic style evolved over time?
I think I’ve kept a similar style: clean, classic and traditional. I have tried the 100 different looks challenge on Instagram to experiment with different styles and techniques. If I find something I like, I integrate it into my work.
My work is inspired by stuff I’ve learned in the past from workshops and classes and finding pots online I like on social media, usually through Instagram and Pinterest. When I find different designs, I try to recreate them myself so I can get out of my comfort zone in the ceramic world. As soon as you get stuck in one style, you’re recreating the same thing over and over as a production potter, so I like to experiment with my own work.
I have exhibited in the past, I do craft shows around three times per year during Spring and Christmas seasons. It gets my name out and I also put stuff for sale in the Hintonburg Pottery Shop. I have people who follow me to see when the next show is or who buy the same style repeatedly from me.
Who are some of your key influences and what inspires you?
Tony Clennel was one of my instructors at Sheridan and Bruce Cochrane was also an instructor, who studied in Japan with artists there. I liked their styles, clean lines and the aesthetics of their pieces. They both introduced me to the concept of there being a purpose to a pot: a story behind how it is made and a purpose as to why we use it while eating and drinking. There’s a relationship between the pot and its’ purpose.
I believe there is a distinction between pottery and ceramics in that the former is more functional and made for everyday use and sometimes ceramics is sculptural or for viewing pleasure only. There is still a story behind both but for me to create, there has to be a use each time–a purpose.
What is your style like as an instructor and what outcomes do you focus on?
I’m fun and joyful, I like to put on a show. I like to use easy to remember terms instead of instructions and have little tweaks to help people remember what to do, as the wheel has so many steps.
For example, I encourage my students to act like a baby dino to get their arms tucked in and supported for centreing on the wheel, to keep their bodies secure and positioned enough so they’re braced and in control and not swaying with the wheel and clay.
The joystick is when they’re coning the clay and bringing it up and down to get it centred. The other one I do is the flight attendant when pulling up the walls, to help with positioning it.
I want to give them a good foundation so their first piece can look really incredible but then I let them do it themselves the next few times to experiment a bit more. I start by showing them, followed by letting them struggle a bit, doing demos as needed, helping them refine their techniques and then we adjust accordingly.
As much as I want them to figure out the steps themselves, if I see someone is frustrated, I do more one-on-one time and talk them through it. Most students will pay attention to what others are doing and learn from them as well.
I can tell as soon as someone comes in and starts the class if they’re not having a good day. I can also tell if someone is an engineer when they’re at the wheel! They are usually very good at the wheel.
What do you think makes Hintonburg Pottery so magical?
It is very magical. The environment is relaxed but then you walk onto the street and you forget you’re close to downtown, in a busy city.
Once I am inside, it reminds me of being back on the East Coast in PEI, as it is so calming. Ginger (the Owner) is an amazing person, she’s great at listening to people and our clients and trying to improve things.
Everyone has their story and we all come together to make this place work. I’ve done production where it’s all about the numbers–very quantity over quality–but here it is more balanced.
There are always people coming in and out of the shop and studio, watching, asking questions and it’s a very open environment.
Can you tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I always try to accommodate clients’ needs in order to support their work and have worked with visible and non-visible disabilities. One of my clients is non verbal and blind but when he is happy while doing his wheel work, he starts to giggle and that brings me so much joy.
I myself have been diagnosed with anxiety but when I am here and doing pottery, it is stress free and I love it. It gets me out of my bubble, and going to work every day makes me happy. Even if the kiln is broken and we’re running low on clay, everything can be fixed.
This place is part of my therapy...except for during the months of November and December, when it gets busier with production, sales and shows!
Upcoming 6-week classes with Katherine King:
Wheel Throwing Beginner 1: December 8, 2019 to January 12, 2020
Wheel Throwing Beginner 2:
December 11, 2019 to January 29, 2020
February 12, 2020 to March 25, 2020
Wheel Throwing/Handbuilding Combo:
December 15, 2019 to January 19, 2020
February 2, 2020 to March 8, 2020
We provide all clay, tools and instruction in a warm and welcoming light-filled studio. Learn more and book your space online here or by calling 613-725-6909.