The inspiration for Maggie Boyd to launch her own ceramics studio came through kind of a weird channel: sausage. She went to visit a master sausage maker, stepping into what she describes as a “beautiful sausage wonderland.”
She didn’t care particularly about tube-shaped meat, but she was enthralled by this man’s expertise, his utter fascination with and encyclopaedic knowledge of it. “I was captivated…he hypnotized me,” she says. “When I left I was like: ‘I want to know something that well.'”
That thing is ceramics. Along with the more standard pieces she produces in her studio in Chinatown – cups, bowls, plates and planters – Maggie makes quirky and unique sculptures and also hosts sold-out workshops. Her pieces feature beautiful colour palettes and gradients, and many bear whimsical characters or cheeky slogans, the hand-painted works an extension of her goofy personality. Occasionally you’ll find her drawings on things non-ceramic, like the beer posters at Brassneck Brewery.
Maggie started studying art in Vancouver before heading to NASCAD in the maritimes to finish her degree. Ceramics came easily to her. “My hands felt smart,” she says of her first experiences turning clay. Years later, her hands have only grown smarter and the process has become meditative. “My body teaches me things that my brain catches on to later.”
She worked as a ceramics lab technician while at Langara, mastering the background work in running a ceramics studio: firing kilns, making glazes, even digging clay by the ton from riverbeds. “It’s hilarious how much work it is,” she says of maintaining such an operation.
Today Maggie passes on her knowledge through weekly workshops. “Watching people connect with a process that’s so intrinsic in their lives, that’s so cool,” she says. Most people never think of the objects we sip and munch from beyond they’re piling up in the sink. Her workshops give students an idea of just what goes into these seemingly simple items. A the end of their first piece, most students say the same thing: “Whoa, cups should be way more expensive.”
Maggie loves witnessing that epiphany. “The production of a cup can be really meaningful,” she says. Through her workshops she hopes people learn to appreciate all the crafts that keep our everyday lives easy: bakers, carpenters, farmers, and plumbers – especially plumbers.
You can find Maggie’s pieces at Charlie & Lee, Shop One Of A Few, Board of Trade, The Sunny Side in Deep Cove, and Umeboshi up on Main. You can also sign up for workshops and shop her collection on her website.