Hey guys! Here is the next edition of our newest blog meet The Crow’s Nest peeps written by Mike Davies.
Noella Janzen, the in-house potter at The Crow’s Nest Artist Collective, was into pottery before she even knew what pottery was.
“I was probably in about Grade 2 when I started digging mud out of the riverbank and making things with it on garbage can lids, adding little hooks and stuff to it to make them into pendants, painting them with acrylic paint and selling them to my friends,” she remembers.
She thinks it came from being in a home where both parents were constantly making artistic things and creating with their hands.
“My dad’s a very skilled woodworker and my mom was always making art and doing interior design, and so I gravitated towards the arts when I got into school,” she says. “And then my art teacher brought in her friend who was a potter in Grade 11 and as soon as I got on a wheel, I was hooked. I was done at that point. I’d found the answer.”
She began taking private lessons – as often as she could afford to – with a potter who lived just down the street from her, and started saving for her own wheel and kiln.
That happened at 24.
“From then on, no matter where I moved – even if I couldn’t set it up and it had to be put in storage for a while – I always had my own kiln and wheel, because I knew I would always go back to it as soon as I could,” she says.
More often than not, she ended up finding a shared studio space to work out of and her gear remained in storage…
In fact, her equipment was in storage when her friend Nadia was looking for a new, larger space to accommodate the growth of The Crow’s Nest Artist Collective, and Noella jumped at the opportunity to hop on-board.
She realized that while she could have set it all up in her basement, she’d miss the social aspect of working alongside others that she experienced back when she was taking lessons and working in shared studio spaces.
“I was also excited to share what I’d learned over the years with others and help spark the same passion in them that I feel for it,” she says. “It had been on my back burner for a while, but the timing just wasn’t right. All of a sudden the timing was right.”
But what it would develop into, she never would have guessed.
“Going from ‘one day I’ll do pottery again,’ to now owning seven pottery wheels and multiple kilns and doing this as my living…” she pauses. “I pinch myself every day that it’s blown up like this.”
Maybe it’s blown up like it has because it’s something anyone can do….once you get a few solid fundamentals, at least.
“There are some key things that you need to know to avoid a whole lot of frustration,” Noella says, “but once you know those things, there’s no limit to what you can make or how far you can go with it.”
And the second it clicks for someone is Noella’s favourite moment of the day.
“There’s just something about watching someone have their ‘ah-ha’ moment,” she says. “That moment when they’re not fighting the clay anymore, and it’s just doing what they want it to do without any struggle or frustration. It’s a beautiful thing.”
And as much as she likes teaching people in the pottery studio, she’s happiest that she’s teaching her kids the value of creativity.
“I got to see my parents making their living making things with their hands, and now my kids get to see me doing that, too,” she says. “I love that my kids get to grow up with me here at The Crow’s Nest and be surrounded by art and get to feel the passion of people who love it.
“I couldn’t have imagined that this would ever happen, but now that it has, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”