From Pure Science to Pure Pottery

September 20th, 2014 | No Comments

Jack Olive grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. After obtaining a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Mooorhead State College in Minnesota he spent 3 years working as a biochemist at the University Of Oregan Medical School. But a strong creative gene began to override a love of pure science and so Jack returned to Moorhead to work on a degree in ceramics and graphics.


In 1971 Jack moved to Vancouver to become a founding member and director of the Vancouver Clayworks Society; a 12 member cooperative ceramics studio.


In this hugely creative atmosphere Jack worked with other members of the group to develop methods of applying graphic images i.e. photography, drawing and painting to clay. His style of work ranges from abstract geometric to wildlife painting and drawing. Currently Jacks pottery images include Pears, Salmon, Orcas, Ravens, Apples and Crows. These images are incorporated into a large range of functional pottery items from Jugs to Mugs Casseroles , Bowls, Plates, Tea Pots, Pitchers and more


Jack has recently explored the techniques and possibilities of Raku. This example uses “naked Raku” techniques, which result in a pot that is white with a black line image. A dry pot is covered with terra sigliata (liquid clay), fired once to bisque temperature, and then covered with a high-fire clay slip and a low fire glaze, through which he etches the design.


The Raku firing process requires a special Raku kiln that is fueled by propane and reaches temperatures of about 1800°F (about 982°C).


The piece is then fired to Raku temperatures, and placed into the smoking chamber. When the piece is cooled, he peels off the slip and glaze to reveal the black line on the white background. The resulting pots have a lighter, more textured quality than his traditional stoneware.


In order to complete the firing process, the Raku pottery must remain in the kiln for approximately 30 minutes. The Raku pottery is removed from the kiln using specially designed Raku tongs.



While the Raku pottery piece is still hot and glowing, it is placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials. The heat emitted from the Raku pottery causes these materials to catch on fire. After the materials inside the metal can catch on fire, a lid is placed over the can and the Raku pottery is sealed inside.


The Raku pottery is capable of withstanding these high temperatures and the fire within the can because it is made from a special type of clay that is capable of withstanding thermal shock.



Jack now lives and works in Powell River on the beautiful B.C. Sunshine Coast but you can see lots of Jack’s magnificent creative work – both Raku and Stoneware at



A Passion for Ocean Themes

August 30th, 2014 | No Comments

One of the great pleasures of owning a studio is that just occasionally you meet an artist who produces some really creative and beautiful work. Darcy Epp is a perfect example. Her Raku is stunning and very well worth viewing.


Darcy began her pottery career in 1993 by taking some night classes with a studio potter. She immediately realized that working with the magic of clay on the potter’s wheel and individual hand sculpting was something that would be immensely fulfilling.


 She has taken many workshops in both functional and decorative pieces at North Island College and Metchosin International School of the Arts, as well as specialized workshops and seminars from Gordon Hutchens (Denman Island), Siegele and Haley (Arkansas), Alan Burgess (Courtenay) as well as many others.


 Not limiting herself to one medium, she has learned and crosses over between traditional thrown pottery to slab work, Raku and porcelin, often incorporating the theory of one discipline to another. A passion for ocean themes, her attention to the intricate details of orcas, starfish, and rockfish has earned her pottery prominence in some of the most exclusive resort destinations venues.


 Raku is an ancient type of Japanese firing dating back to the 16th century. Beautiful iridescent blues, violets, copper and crackle glazes are produced on either wheel thrown or sculptural pottery. The pottery is fired to 1800° and then “reduced” in a chamber which catches fire immediately. The fire uses up all the oxygen in both glaze and chamber, thus producing one of a kind results.


 Darcy lives in Black Creek on lovely Vancouver Island. B.C. and you can find more of her beautiful work at Side Street Studio, Victoria, B.C.

Stuart Clarke West Coast Wildlife Photographer

August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments

Stuart Clarke Wildlife Photographer writes;

After graduating from Trent University with a degree in Biology in 1994, I made my way to the West Coast and Victoria to pursue my dream.

After a number of years in the Outdoor Industry I have finally found my true calling as a wildlife photographer. As a life long birder it wasn’t a stretch to trade the binoculars for a camera. As a wildlife photographer you often get 2 comments “you must be really patient” and “you must have a really good camera”.


The first one I always find so interesting, because for me, sitting in the woods observing and recording bird behaviour in one the most beautiful places on the planet is something I used to do on my days off and the excitement of capturing a rare or difficult species more then offsets the patience needed. The second, kind of goes without saying, to photograph small fast moving birds in dark forests requires top quality gear just to make it possible, but, it most certainly doesn’t make it easy or guarantee you’ll get the shot.

7220 SC

It is this challenge that keeps me inspired and has led to my specialty of capturing birds in-flight. Two of my favourite images, one of a male Barred Owl as it has left its perch looking for a mouse and the other is a Bald Eagle as it came in for a fish. The owl shot came from a lot of hard work, perseverance and wet rainy days in the rainforest, watching and observing this owl as he fed his mate and their offspring. After I captured this image, I zoomed in on the LCD screen on the back of the camera, when I saw that it was sharp it was like getting a hole in one and well worth all of the soggy mornings.


The eagle photo on the other hand was all about being in the right place at the right time. While having lunch with my girlfriend at the Oak Bay Marina I saw all of the gulls take flight, a sure sign that an eagle is patrolling the area. I grabbed my camera and ran down to the water just in time to capture this bird as it came in for a fish. This incredible pose as it came directly at me is a once in a lifetime capture. These images and many more are part of my ever expanding Card Collection. I currently have over 100 species of birds and wildlife plus a large collection of nature and park images from all over Vancouver Island.


My cards are unique in that the backs have information on the species and where it can be found in North America. The images on the cards are actual photographs and are suitable for framing. All of the images in my card collection can also be purchased as Prints – (framed or unframed) as well as giclee canvas prints (stretched or rolled).

you can find all of Stuart’s superb cards, prints, mugs etc at

Stuart Clarke Feeder Bird Poster18 x 24


A Rare Chance to see and listen to Charles Van Sandwyk 

August 5th, 2014 | No Comments

Charles Van Sandwyk at Creative Mornings, Vancouver BC

An excellent presentation by Charles at Creative Mornings , Vancouver BC plus a reading by Charles from one of his books.

Both very well worth watching!!


Reading : Charles Van Sandwyk at Creative Morning, Vancouver BC.

Main Presentation by Charles Van Sandwyk


Born in Johannesburg in 1966 and raised in Vancouver, Charles van Sandwyk began selling his drawings and watercolors in the early 1980’s. In 1986, he won the Alcan Award for his limited edition book A Selection of Neighbourly Birds. The book, illustrated with etchings printed on an antique intaglio press, was his first venture into the world of handmade books. Since then, Van Sandwyk has created a number of limited edition books. His charming private press books pair animal characters with whimsical verses.


Van Sandwyk’s style is inspired by the paintings and prints that hung in his family home. He splits his time between Vancouver and Fiji, and his enthusiasm for the natural world is clearly evident in his books. Collectors have come to love van Sandwyk’s limited edition books for their beauty, simplicity, and vibrance. Some of van Sandwyk’s paintings hang in the National Library of Canada, as well as in several important private collections.

You can find almost all of Charles beautiful books and cards at Side Street Studio, Victoria BC. We ship daily with FedEx and Canada Post.


Phil Cottell – A Suggestion for Politicians!

July 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Phil Cottell – A Suggestion for Politicians!

A short time ago Phil was asked to carve, a ‘Talking Stick’ from locally grown Yellow Cedar. This was designed by the excellent & hugely talented Coast Salish artist, Chris Paul, a member of the Tsartlip nation. Once finished the design will show the head of an Owl – expounding wisdom one can hope….


A ‘Talking Stick’ has traditionally been used by First Nations to pass around from member to member allowing only the person who is holding the stick to speak. This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard; consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the “long winded” don’t dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to interject.


And so we come to our two main suggestions: Firstly, that a ‘Talking Stick’ be part of all Provincial and Federal Government meetings and limited to a speaking time of 10 minutes. Some hope! Perhaps we could produce a list of societies, organizations, clubs, mainstream media (or specific individuals) that could benefit from the introduction of a ‘Talking Stick’….Some chance!
Secondly, that a revised form of ‘Talking Stick’ be introduced which discourages speakers from proposing the usual inane nonsense, well beloved by politicians of all parties. This could be called the B….. Stick – no; good manners prevents further discussion.


So on to Philip Cottell; Phil was born at Ladysmith, Vancouver Island. After completing a doctorate at Yale (Phil denies being a member of the Skull & Bones fraternity and so was denied the pleasure of meeting the former President of the US, Mr. George H. W. Bush) he returned to his native B.C. to take up a professorship at UBC. With time spent working in forestry and wood products research, retirement beckoned. Phil returned to the Island in 1997 and with great enthusiasm and skill began devoting his time to woodturning.

From the following images you can see shelves of various woods ‘seasoning or drying prior to being turned. Phil particularly enjoys creating beautiful as well as useful objects, utilizing salvaged wood from local trees — maple, arbutus, dogwood, cedar and others.

Many of these pieces are allowed to dry for up to 3 years before being turned.



Phil’s subjects range from organic burl bowls, salad bowls and sculptural vessels to coloured, wall-hung plaques that take their cues from the wood grain and figure.
As with many local artists, Phil strongly believes in conservation of our resources.



You can find lots of Phil’s magnificent work at Side Street Studio in Oak Bay Village or on line at and (look for Side Street Studio in Home & Garden)




New Oak Bay Tourism Advertising

June 20th, 2014 | No Comments

New Oak Bay Tourism Advertising. Great to see how Oak Bay looks and how much it has to offer!








June 6th, 2014 | No Comments

In March 2013 and after 39 years, Robert Held sold off all his glass making equipment and finally closed the doors of his Vancouver based, Pine Street Studio.


Bob moved to Parksville on Vancouver Island and entered into retirement. So that was it. The end of some of the finest glass making in North America.


But the days of tennis, reading and painting (the artistic type) began to drag. Frustration grew. Dreams of a relaxing retirement became just that – dreams. The urge to create more pieces of glass art grew until Bob could resist the call no longer.


As with all ventures a little luck helps. Bob discovered that an art school in southern Seattle had just received a large endowment and was upgrading their glass making equipment. So armed with cash and a large van he was first on the scene and bought their whole collection of equipment – furnaces included.




After numerous trips from Seattle back & forth to Vancouver Island we now we have a new art studio, based in Parksville – risen from the ashes so to speak.


Bob together with two of his former artists have started creating even more beautiful glass art. Hearts, Paperweights, Bowls, Vases and Ginger Pots are all now ready (in limited quantities) for sale as the new gallery expands its production.


The main picture shows Bob & one of his key assistants, Bohy, outside of the new studio. No Bohy is not bowing to Bob! He is drawing out very long, thin lines of hot glass (up to 70 ft) which quickly cool and are then fused to the sides of bowls, vases etc. Each using different colours depending on the specific design. A process that Bob called ‘fritting’.


The other photos show Sue Hayes from Side Street Studio looking at some new ‘lighting’ glass work with Bob. And some scenes of the work area.


You can find a good number of examples of Bob’s new glass work at with more pieces arriving as soon as they are available.




Talk to an Expert Day in Oak Bay Village – Saturday May 24 Oak Bay Village

May 16th, 2014 | No Comments

Talk to an Expert Day in Oak Bay Village – Saturday May 24 Oak Bay Village
Combining once a year deals with personalized advice

Want to grow tomatoes but don’t know where to start? Going on a long trip and unsure what to pack? Love the spring fashions but don’t know which ones are right for you? There are experts to help with these questions and more and they will be in Oak Bay Village for one day. On May 24 Oak Bay Village is hosting Meet the Experts Day, an event combining advice, demonstrations and deals to jump start spring projects. Whether it is fitness, food or fashion there is an expert on hand to answer questions and provide personalized advice.

At Side Street Studio, Carolyn Herriot, one of B.C.’s top organic gardening guru’s and author of the Zero Mile Diet Cookbook will be signing books.

Carolyn Herriot

We will also have her new seasons organic seeds for sale and Carolyn will be available to answer your gardening questions.


Hope the weather stays fine!

Trees have Living Spirits

April 5th, 2014 | No Comments

Wayne Anaka writes;

Having restored antique furniture and chairs for many years my passion for wood has renewed interests by way of the arts. From hand carving burls to turning bowls and platters I have designed many “one of a kind” pieces, my latest being “Hollycones” and parquetry inlaid coloured platters.



Like our native Indian people I strongly believe trees have living spirits. When working with highly figured woods, many different unexpected images appear. I try to bring out their hidden beauty. Where knots fell out, marbles are carefully chosen to replace it. I have been accepted and sold pieces in the Sidney Fine Arts Show for the last three consecutive years. The Woodturners Guild has encouraged me by the many world class turners we bring in for demonstrations.


My ambitions remain high, as are my standards for what I produce. Public response is of the utmost importance to me. My work and great love for it makes it much easier for me to produce pleasing, one of a kind works of art for all to enjoy.

You can find more of Watne’s beautiful and creative work at Side Street Studio in Oak Bay Village, Victoria, B.C.



April 1st, 2014 | No Comments

Sue McLeod was born and raised in Victoria, BC.


She spent most of the years of her 20s travelling and exploring the world, educating herself through time and experience. She is a full time student of life and is eager to keep learning forever. It was the result of a road trip through British Columbia where she stumbled upon Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson and she was immediately drawn into the clay program.



Sue has a unique and close connection with fire, which has greatly inspired and influenced her path in ceramics. Earthen materials come into contact with her hands to be shaped into physical expressions of her life experience. They are then placed within the fire where a magical transformation occurs to produce something so amazingly beautiful. How could she resist this process?


Sue has lived a life where she puts as great an emphasis on play as on work. She works very hard so that she can play very hard and she tries to incorporate playfulness into her work whenever it’s appropriate. This playfulness comes through in her ceramic forms in many different ways.



She is currently working on a series of board games which translate her hard work into something that can be played and enjoyed over and over. Sue sees the teapot form not only as a vessel for pouring tea, but also as a fun character that can have a personality all of its own.


Inspired by the wit, wisdom and illustrations of Dr. Seuss, Sue plays around with many different shapes and colours, capturing the mood of the ever-changing, both sensible and nonsensical world she finds herself in. All of Sue’s current work is electric-fired to cone 6.

You can find Sue’s beautiful locally made candles at Side Street Studio, Oak Bay Village, Victoria, B.C.