Meet your friendly new neighborhood potter.
Vancouver’s first European-style ceramic studio is now open in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
New and friendly neighborhood potter, Kate Metten, opened the doors to her ceramic studio about a month ago this summer at 2408 Main St. The space is unlike the ceramic shops seen around Vancouver, according to Metten, who has lived both in the city and abroad. in Europe.
“It’s set up like a production-style studio,” she says. “When I was in Europe, it seems there were a lot more potters with their own display cases, but nobody really does that here. It brings a Bernard Leach-style studio to Vancouver that didn’t exist before.”
Kate Metten Ceramics, Metten’s new space, serves primarily as her studio, where she launches and fires pieces daily
The work of other local potters is also on display throughout the studio, and Metten plans to host monthly pop-ups featuring local artists.
Liam McClure, a self-taught artist who makes welded metal and leather chairs, is September’s featured artist. A pop-up opening party will take place at the studio on September 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Different from online shopping
“There’s nothing like meeting the artist and seeing how the work is made, feeling the piece, connecting with a piece. That’s why it’s different from shopping online. Ceramics are so personal, and you have to find [a] piece that fits well in the hand,” says Metten.
Unlike the typical Vancouver business model where buyers browse finished goods, Metten’s model allows buyers to peek into the production process. At any time of the day, people walking through the studio can see her working behind the wheel and throughout the studio, which adds a base element to the finished pieces.
Because Metten works every day, she can adjust clays and glazes according to trends and seasons in real time. Going from a summer palette to a fall palette can be done in days instead of months.
Besides being beautiful art, “everything is functional,” she adds. “It’s like functional art because sometimes, I think, people are afraid to use these one-of-a-kind objects, but life exists in the use.”
Setting up shop
The idea of opening a storefront ceramics studio came about unexpectedly, Metten recalls.
She was in Denmark for a ceramics residency when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to give up all her work and return to Vancouver. Metten’s business grew while she was quarantined in her studio.
Also in Vancouver, she was walking down Main Street when she crossed paths with a property manager who, after welcoming her into his home, encouraged her to do something with the newly opened space, so she is thrown.
“I was going to move [to Vancouver] for graduate school, and then I thought it was actually a more unique opportunity,” Metten said. “I know so many people in the neighborhood, and it’s kind of cool to feel like the neighborhood potter and waving at people out the window all the time. day that I launch [clay].”
Opening the studio was tedious and Metten describes the long hours it took to put it all together. “We worked 14 hours a day during the month of June. I didn’t want the shop to remain empty, and as soon as I settled in, I wanted to open my doors,” she explains.
The studio is constantly evolving, she adds, mentioning the glaze mixing counter she recently installed in the back and the additional painting done over the weekends.
A potter since childhood
Metten is indeed Vancouver’s friendly neighborhood potter, having collaborated with Oak and Fort for their new flagship store in Gastown and creating custom dishes for Ubuntu Canteen.
Her journey as a potter began at the age of seven when she first sat in front of a potter’s wheel. Her interest continued through her teenage years, along with dancing. At age 13, Metten gave up dancing and pursued her interest in ceramics.
“It’s a very physical practice, a bit like dancing,” she contrasts. “[Ceramics] responds very much to the body and the sense of touch. It came naturally and became a big part of my self-care. It’s a grounding tool for me in my life.”