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Moulding Therapy and Art

handmade mug with strawberries on it

By Morgan Noseworthy

It’s been a month and a half since the former social worker said good-bye to the nine-to-five world to keep up with the demand for her pottery.

Four and a half years ago, Brinn Steeves decided to try out pottery. Today, she’s out of the frying pan and into the kiln, as she is now a full-time potter working out of her home studio in Old Strathcona.

handmade mug with strawberries on it
Photo via Facebook

The Edmonton native moved to Saskatoon in 2015 for a social work program, but had no connection to an art community, so she decided to give throwing clay a try.

“It escalated from there. I got pretty obsessed,” said Steeves.

When she returned to Edmonton, she integrated pottery with her social work in the inner city. She spent the last few years running one of the visual art studios at iHuman Youth Society.

“I was kind of integrating therapy and art with a marginalized population,” said Steeves.

She calls her work “strengths-based ceramics,” because of the way it celebrates people’s positive traits, such as empathy, kindness, and compassion. Every piece is handcrafted herself from start to finish.

Things have been going well for Steeves since taking pottery from a “full-time side-hustle” to a full-time job.

“Edmonton really supports the art community. I debuted in the springtime at the Royal Bison and sold out my first sale and since then I can’t keep up with the demand. It’s awesome,” said Steeves.

handmade mug with strawberries on it
Photo via Facebook

“Figuring out a home studio has been pretty tough because there’s a lot of working parts to pottery. I have a kiln to fire my stuff in, but there’s a lot of regulations and specifics to having a piece of equipment like that,” said Steeves.

“Now it’s trying to figure out how much to work and what time work; how to keep myself motivated, but not work too much,” she says.

Steeves suggests taking a class to anyone interested in pottery.

“Even if you don’t want to do it for money, it’s super therapeutic just being on the wheel and trying out a really tactile art form. It’ll blow you away the different kind of eye-hand co-ordination you use for pottery.”

Classes range from six to ten weeks and can be taken at Studio 72, Viva ClayWorks and the City Art Centre.

Steeves showcases her work at art shows like Royal Bison, The Old Strathcona Art Walk and The Coven Collective in Calgary and hopes to hit the punk-rock flea markets in Toronto.

More permanent showcases can be found at Hideout Distro on 124 St and 108 Ave, Tix on the Square in Churchill Square, and Fox Runner Tattoo on 101 St. and 80 Ave.

Her work can be viewed at oilandbirch.com, on Instagram @oilandbirch, and at facebook.com/oilandbirch, where she also posts videos showing progress on current pieces and tips for aspiring potters.

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