Getting Our Hands Dirty Inside The Workshop Of Ceramicist Janaki Larsen

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by Grady MitchellTradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed!

Many people know Janaki Larsen as owner of Vancouver’s much-beloved Parisian-style cafe, Le Marché St. George. She’s also a talented ceramicist. We got our hands dirty in her workshop, where she showed us her three essential tools…

1. Hands | “My hands are by far my most important tool. Although there are certain techniques to follow, every potter has a unique way of throwing a pot. Some people smooth away the ‘throwing lines’ but I like to keep them. It’s what makes a piece feel alive to me. I find the gestures involved in throwing very beautiful so I want them to remain as a reminder of the process.”

2. Kiln | “I bought my kiln about 11 years ago. At the time it was the biggest, most expensive purchase I had ever made. It is a fully automated kiln which means I don’t have to manually turn it up every hour over an 8-12 hour period. Manual kilns have their benefits, but they just weren’t practical for me. I’ve been travelling a lot in Mexico over the last few years and I’m fascinated with how they fire pots; it’s something I’d like to experiment with — a big pit, a pile of pots. and a fire!”

3. Shimpo Wheel | “My mom, Patricia Larsen, is known as a painter, but she was also a potter. One of my first memories was riding on the bottom of her kick wheel. She bought a proper wheel the year she had my sister, Klee, in 1986. When I began making pots in my third year of Emily Carr, she wasn’t using it so much anymore so she gave it to me…or maybe she just leant it to me!”

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