It’s been a little over five years since Micah and Jeremiah Wassink took over Pridham Studio, and the two potters are still hard at work developing new designs, experimenting with different clays and glazes, and even restructuring their studio.
“We had done very little to the studio itself,” said Jeremiah. “But we felt it was time to re-evaluate the building and see if we could run the studio more effectively. It’s taken some time but I think we’ve figured out a better system.”
“We’ve got everything where we want it now, but our two new studio cats may change all that,” said Micah. “When the shelves went up with nothing on them, we let the cats explore. Now we might be regretting that decision.”
As they worked to fill in a recent order from Whistler, Micah and Jeremiah discussed the evolution of certain designs that began with Micah’s parents, Nancy and David Pridham. “We’re still continuing to work within the collections that Nancy established,” said Jeremiah. “A lot of people have several pieces within a certain theme and they want to add to their collections, so when we change those original designs – the cherries or the elevators – we do so by just a little so they still belong with the older pieces.”
“We also still do custom awards and trophies. We do custom patterns for businesses and groups. The Creston Valley Teachers Association and Columbia Basin and PhysioWorks have their own pattern,” said Micah. “Some people design custom wedding bowls and plates with the names and date as a keepsake. A lot of couples design a unique set of trivets as wedding favours.”
The couple has no concern about keeping themselves busy. Working with students from ARES and Homelinks, and the Grizzly After School Program, they’ve also opened the studio for bridal parties. But Micah and Jeremiah also take time to experiment with their art. After purchasing a digital programmable kiln, the potters are now able to achieve different effects they were not able to before. “We’re always learning through experimentation,” said Jeremiah, “and our slow cool mugs, in translucent teal and brown, have become bestsellers. They have this great crystalline effect we were both really happy with.”
While the Wassinks continue to sell their pottery in various shops across British Columbia, they are also finding a constantly enthusiastic crowd at various markets. A staple at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market and the Cranbrook Winter Market, they have also recently added the Kimberley Market to their schedule. “The Kimberley Market is on a Thursday afternoon, so it doesn’t interfere with the Creston Market,” said Micah. “We couldn’t imagine not being involved with the market here.”
“It’s so great to see young people buying and selling at the markets, and all the positive energy. Farmers’ markets have been around a long time, but we’re seeing a real revival,” said Jeremiah.
Although the winter season is not as prosperous as the tourist season, the potters are focusing on finishing the 3000 pieces they complete every season while topping up orders from different ski hills. “3000 is about all we can produce without any help,” said Micah. “About half of those are mugs, and those take time. The base is made on the wheel and the handles are hand-pulled. We’ve talked about getting a studio assistant, but that individual would have to be the right fit. We’re used to working with each other. We’re used to how the other works and creates.”
The choice to create as a living is a lifestyle that both still enjoy. “You have to be self-motivated,” said Micah, “and being your own boss is not always easy.”
“But we’re not out in the mud and cold, and we’re not working set hours for someone else. We’re not commuting to work and back – it gives us more time with our daughter. We wouldn’t want it any other way,” added Jeremiah. “We’re fortunate that we’re able to do this for a living. While handmade, hand painted pottery could be seen as an unnecessary industry, people see our work as special and unique and find joy in using it and giving it to others.”
Pridham pottery can be found locally at Creston Card & Stationary, the Creston Museum, Tigz Designs and the Creston Valley Wildlife Centre. The studio is located at 138 12th Avenue North. Their new website pridhamstudio.ca is now online.