Longtime Pentictonite shares creativity through pottery

Creative spirit in pottery

"Okanagan Inspired" is a weekly series of articles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of Pentictonites who hold creative roles in the community.

A longtime Penticton local lets her creative spirit shine through in her pottery.

A true Pentictonite through and through, Molly Degardin was born and raised in town, and has no plans on leaving anytime soon.

“I lived in France for a little bit, but other than that I’ve lived in Penticton my entire life,” explains Degardin.

“I lived in the South of France for three months, which was long enough to meet my ex-husband. I lived in a 13th century chateau which was being upgraded to 21st century accommodations. I got to live there for doing 25 hours of work a week and I got free room and board. While I was there I was taught on the job how to do masonry and I helped with the chateau’s fountains and lime work. It was just a program I found online and I reached out. It was a really unique opportunity."

She then moved back to Penticton.

"Having gone away to travel a lot, I always come back and realize how amazing it is. The beaches, the wineries and the beautiful view. The valley is just so beautiful and most of my family is in Penticton too,” she says.

Although making unique arts and crafts isn’t new to Degardin, she is new to the art of pottery making with her business Heart and Solace.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in doing. There were classes being offered in Penticton throughout the years, but I had never pulled the trigger to spend the money. Finally in February this year, Debra Cherniawski from Artables on Main Street posted an ad that she was offering classes on Facebook, and I thought, now is the time. I signed up and I absolutely loved it. I kept signing up for more and more classes. Finally, I rented a spot from her in her studio and I am now in the works making my own at-home studio!” Degardin explains.

In addition to her pottery, Degardin makes unique Chakra based candles with her own essential oil blends.

“I’ve been making those for some time now, but I’ve begun making little pottery candle pots for the candles. I add a new colour and design to the different candle holders,” says Degardin.

Making pottery is special to Degardin because it keeps her grounded.

“I used to just watch videos of people making pottery and even then I found it so relaxing and grounding. I love working with my hands and it makes me feel so productive. I really like making functional art, like mugs and teapots too. Things you can use day to day,” she says.

For people interested in starting out, Degardin advises to just give it a try.

“It is a really tricky learning curve. It looks so easy when you watch people and it takes some time to learn, like how to centre the clay, for example. It’s also extremely messy and you need to be willing to get dirty. But don’t hesitate, just go for it! If I had started it when I actually wanted to, I would have been so much further ahead than I am now. Follow what brings you joy and have fun with it!”

With practice and learning, her pieces get bigger and braver.

“I have been working on bigger pieces recently, like larger bowls, and I just made a teapot I’m really proud of,” says Degardin.

As a single mother, her 3-year-old son, and biggest fan of her pottery, has also taken a crack at pottery making, playing with her pottery wheel and making his own art.

In addition to bowls and teapots, Degardin makes mugs, all kinds of little pots for candles, vases and tumblers. She also hand-glazes all of her pieces and carves stamps to transfer images onto the pottery.

“All of my Chakra candles are colour coded with unique images on them too,” Degardin says.

“I only started in February, so I have so much more to learn. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be able to learn from Debra. I am learning how to load and unload a kiln right now. It would all be really overwhelming on my own."

While spinning away on her pottery wheel, Degardin is most likely playing Alaska by Maggie Rogers.

“The candles are really popular, especially in the pottery. They make really perfect and unique little gifts,” she explains.

Degardin’s pottery creations are available online at heartandsolace.ca, on Instagram at @heart.and.solace, and she is at the Penticton Farmer’s Market weekly each Saturday.

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