Holiday shopping, gallery-style viewing and interaction with artists combine at the 43rd annual Clayfolk Show and Sale.
The exhibition brings together the work of more than 70 clay artists, many known throughout the Pacific Northwest. Organizers describe it as the largest display of handmade pottery and sculpture in the area.
The free event takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway.
The show’s opening on Friday is a time to view and purchase pieces from the artists’ full inventory of work. There will be light refreshments, and jazz guitarist Dan Fellman and classical guitarist Grant Ruiz will play music from Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, along with original instrumentals from 5 to 7 p.m.
Various artists will demonstrate hand-throwing pottery on a wheel and other building techniques throughout the show, and there will be hands-on opportunities for kids of all ages to work with clay. Look for pottery demonstrations from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Kids Clay area will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Whether its a designer teapot to pour hot beverages as the winter season approaches, a serving platter for your next party, or something special to give to a friend, it’s very likely you will find it here. Prices range from several dollars to a hundred dollars, items may be decorative or functional — or both — and include such things as ornaments, jewelry, tiles, and garden art.
Dave Parry is a returning artist to the annual event. He makes tiny espresso cups, teaposts, large serving bowls, vases and small plates ideal for serving tapas.
“Everything I do is functional,” Parry says. “I throw the clay on a wheel with the intention that when it’s done it will be used. I like to think people use the things I make once they’ve bought them. I do bright colors — they’re uplifting, joyful. People come back and say my work makes them smile.”
Some of those smiles likely come from Dave’s personal style.
“I do a combination of slip decorating with stains and add layers and layers to create textures and gloss, as well as matte finishes,” he says. “It’s a process that sort of evolved over the past several years.
“The decorating I do is a little like abstract paintings,” he adds. “I’ll make maybe 22 to 30 coffee cups at a time and their shapes will be roughly the same. Each piece I make has three individual panels going around the form, which I hand paint using a number of different glazes. I combine colors on each panel and try to make each of the panels that are painted on the sides a little different. I don’t want people to come to the show and feel it’s the same as last year.”
When asked what his favorite piece is, he says “I don’t like to get attached to the things I’ve made because I think you should be making better things every time.”
When the Eugene Weekly asked Parry what he thought made his pieces successful, he replied “Keeping them beautiful but functional is the trick.”
Along the annual show and sale, the non-profit Clayfolk organization sponsors workshops for members and the public, donates art-related books and videos to county libraries, and partners with the Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas County Empty Bowl programs to raise money to feed the counties’ less fortunate people. Each year it presents the Ellice T. Johnston Scholarship for the Ceramic Arts to a college or art school student. The scholarship is named for the organization’s founding member and guiding light. Held annually since 1976, the show and sale supports local and regional potters as it makes the art of clay accessible to the community.
Parry appreciates the support Clayfolk provides to local artists. He hails from England where he was introduced to working with clay in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, also known as The Potteries. His grandfather designed huge walk-in kilns for the town’s thriving pottery industry, perhaps best known as the home of Royal Doulton and Wedgewood.
Parry met his Portland-born wife in England. They moved to Oregon about 10 years ago, settling first in Eugene, and recently relocating to a cabin in the country in Douglas County. He’s sold his work in markets and galleries in Southwest England and the US, but says the annual Clayfolk show is one of the best there is.
“It’s well supported,” he says. “People queing up the way they do is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
To ease anticipated parking problems for the Friday night opening, featuring live music and refreshments, All Aboard Trolley will provide free rides from the Walmart parking lot between 4 and 8 p.m. Look for the tent with balloons and the shuttle sign to find the pick-up point.
Be prepared for long lines, but the wait will likely be worth it. You may just find that perfect-size functional soap dish you’ve been searching for, a whimsical animal-shaped lamp for your child’s bedroom, or an elegant sculpture worthy of a prime viewing location in your living room.