By Chad Ingram
Renée Woltz says the beautiful natural environment and thriving arts community of the Haliburton Highlands feed her creative spirit.
Woltz will be displaying and selling her unique pottery at the studio of painter Sophie Creelman during this year’s Studio Tour, taking place the first two weekends of October.
Woltz’s love affair with clay has been a long one, first introduced to pottery at the University of Windsor while studying fine arts. She potted part-time throughout a career with the federal public service, selling her creations through galleries and arts and crafts fairs in the Windsor area.
“I like to carve into clay and I was working with glazes that emphasized the tactile surfaces on mugs and bowls, my patterns inspired by nature,” Woltz said in an email. “This exploration of carving methods led me to try piercing through the walls of pots, in patterns that are evocative of leaves. I began creating pieces that although they are based on traditional vessel forms are more sculptural in nature. I try to impart a sense of motion and lightness in the linear patterns. I continue to produce functional stoneware with my signature style of flowing incised leaf designs.”
Upon retirement in 2011, Woltz and her husband moved to the Haliburton Highlands and that first summer, she took a course in raku pottery at the Haliburton School of Art + Design, raku being a particular method of firing pottery with its history in Japan.
“Soon afterward I built my own raku kiln and began combining my intricate carving techniques with the spontaneous effects of raku, unsure at first if the delicate carved areas would withstand the thermal shock of raku firing,” Woltz explained. “The challenge of contrasting the highly detailed, fragile areas of the pots with the magical iridescence or crackle surfaces created by fire keeps me pushing the limits. I am now experimenting with adding soft colour to some of my raku and sculptural pieces.”
Woltz is excited to share space with Creelman at her schoolhouse studio along Bethel Road. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be safety protocols in place for this year’s tour.
“Due to the pandemic the number of people allowed into the building at one time will be limited and everyone will be required to sanitize their hands and wear a mask before entering the building,” Woltz said. “There will be space outside for people to wait, if necessary, at a safe social distance.”
Debit card payment will not be available, and while cash is being accepted, credit card payment is preferred.
Creelman’s studio is located at 1165 Bethel Road, directly across the road from the old Bethel Church. The Studio Tour runs Oct. 3 and 4 and Oct. 10 and 11, with studios open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.thestudiotour.ca.