PUBLISHED: 5:25 PM on Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Fashionable art with a functional use
Potter Colette Oliver featured this month at Juneau Artist Gallery
Colette Oliver, a Juneau artist who specializes in pottery, will be the featured artist at the Juneau Artists Gallery for October.

She will be at the gallery, located at 175 South Franklin St., during the First Friday Art Walk on Oct. 3 from 4:30-7 p.m.

  Colette Oliver
Oliver, who joined the gallery in September, believes that art should be available to everyone for use in their daily lives. This belief and her passion for clay have led her to creating functional pottery. She hopes others will want to surround themselves with beautiful things, and that some of those things will be her creations.

photos courtesy of Colette Oliver
  Colette Oliver's "functional art." Her work will be featured at the Juneau Artists Gallery during October.
Most of Oliver's creations are thrown on a potter's wheel, although some are built from slabs. After they dry for at least a week, she fires them the first time (bisque) to 1,904 degrees over 13 hours. Then she glazes and fires them again to 2,190 degrees over 14 hours, after which the kiln cools about 12 more hours before it can be unloaded. All of her glazes are made by hand from ground raw materials, metal oxides and stains. Each unique, finished piece is made of porcelain with lead-free glazes and is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

Her compositional themes gravitate around water. A favorite design element is a vertical row of three stamped impressions: the top mark signifying rain, the middle a whale's tail and the bottom signifying the ocean.

Oliver believes that pottery is functional art to use and enjoy every day. Clay is earth made permanent through pressure and heat. Ceramics is one of the oldest art forms. Archaeologists have uncovered human-made ceramics that date back to at least 24,000 B.C. The first use of functional pottery vessels is thought to be in 9,000 B.C., most likely to store grain and other foods. Oliver feels that her pieces each have their own unique personalities, yet are related to all the pots that came before them.

Oliver says that she can hardly remember a time when she did not make pottery. Her hands have been in clay since she was 16 and dropped Chemistry class. As luck would have it, the only other class available was Ceramics. Her hands have been in the mucky stuff ever since, and she says that she can't imagine a time when they will not be.

Colette moved to Juneau in 2005 from Nevada where the thematic influence in her pottery had become the Native American "rock writings," or petroglyphs.

Prior to her three years in the Nevada desert, she lived for 28 years in the hills of northern Kentucky. There she and a college classmate ran their own pottery shop, "Steinkrug Pottery", in a German village called Main Strasse for several years. She has also sold her pottery wholesale to the Kentucky State Parks and various shops and galleries in the Midwest. In 2000, her work was included in the book "A Pottery Tour of Kentucky."

The Juneau Artists Gallery is pleased to have Colette as a new member. Her work can be viewed, along with the work of the other 25 member artists, at the gallery throughout October.