“My art is part of my soul.”
Originally from Ontario, potter Stacey McIntyre moved to Airdrie seven years ago. McIntyre commutes to Calgary for her day job in advertising but creating beautiful pottery is her passion and salvation. “Advertising is about business so there’s a lot of stress,” she says. “Pottery is my opposite. It’s my escape. It keeps me sane.”
McIntyre’s mother and older sister paint and her nephew studied computer-based graphic design, but her grandmother was her first strong influence and mentor. “She drew, she did lino printing, she did silk screening and she did pottery, so that was my first exposure,” she says. “I have pots that she made and I have a whole portfolio of hers that I’m archiving and photographing to share with my family.”
McIntyre took art in high school, where she was actively introduced to creating pottery but then, for many years, “it just went away,” she says.
When she moved to Airdrie, McIntyre, in search of social connections, took two rounds of pottery classes. Sometime later, she did some soul-searching and went back through the things she really liked doing. Pottery was on the list. A close friend encouraged her, off she went to Wetaskiwin to buy a potter’s wheel and from there it snowballed. Other than her Saturday pottery classes, she is a self-taught artist.
Today McIntyre’s inspiration is found mainly on the Internet where she finds the online pottery community supportive and encouraging. “I’m on Instagram and if I’m not doing anything, I just sit on my phone and look [at] pictures and read about shows people are in. You see the work people have done and you learn new techniques too. I call it ‘pottery porn’,” she says.
Although she admires many different techniques used by many different potters, McIntyre’s personal favourite is hand-building. She uses stoneware, a form of clay that is heavier and more durable than earthenware and not as delicate as porcelain (which she plans to use one day).
She also creates using her potter’s wheel and has recently started making dinnerware using a technique called slab-building, in which the clay is rolled out and pieces are cut from a template. “People want things that are functional,” she says.
McIntyre’s favourite creations, though, are her hand-built vases, which have a specific style and are influenced by human form, often a torso with the top, which is always offset, opening like a flower. She builds the cylinder and while the clay is still malleable, she stretches it and plays with it to make the unique shape. “It just happens,” she says.
For the artist, who suffers from depression and has body image issues, “all shapes and sizes are beautiful just the way they are” and she works to achieve sensitive and subtle pieces through self-expression.
McIntyre is always thankful for the help and support of her husband, Ray LaPlante, and good friend Sarah and for the encouragement in moving forward she has received from airdrielife publisher Sherry Shaw-Froggatt. Her greatest concern is one shared by all artists – that their work is underappreciated and undervalued when it is compared to commercially produced products. However, to date her art has been very well-received. She has shown and sold her pieces at Art in the Park, the Airdrie Home and Lifestyle Show Art Market and the Calgary Lilac Festival. She is a member of ARTS and will be helping Greg McRitchie glaze bowls at the Empty Bowls Festival in conjunction with ARTember and is also preparing for her display at the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market Nov. 28-30. And the icing on the cake – she is currently enjoying her brand new kiln.
“My art is part of my soul,” McIntyre says. “I’ve been creative my whole life and I would be a very unhappy person if I couldn’t do it.”