Erickson sculptor creating whimsy in home studio

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  • Mar. 4, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Erickson artist Andrea Revoy (above)

Andrea Revoy’s love of laughter and joy of creating are reflected in the art pieces she makes. Quirky and smile inducing, they are also meticulously detailed. The ceramic artist and potter’s work is instantly identifiable to her growing legion of fans.

In her sun-drenched home studio in Erickson, Revoy moves comfortably among her chosen media, which now include fibres that she dyes, spins and weaves.

Visitors to Blue Moon Pottery were recently greeted at the door by a basketful of hand-dyed fibres in vibrant blues, greens, yellows, reds and oranges. Some will be used to add hair to the clay works she has on the go, including “Marie Antoinettes” and three clay mermaids now in progress.

Born in Germany and raised in northern Vancouver Island communities, Revoy grew up drawing and painting.

“But I also learned to knit and sew and crochet — ‘ladies’ handicrafts’,” she laughs. “I used to spend hours on my mom’s sewing machine, sewing doll clothes.”

Sewing no longer appeals to her.

“I won’t sew now — it makes me angry! It’s just awful!”

After graduating from high school she lived for periods in Victoria and Whitehorse, becoming an aesthetician and hairdresser “because I couldn’t find a decent job.”

It was in Red Deer, though, that she got serious about art.

“Hairdressing is hard on the body,” said Revoy. “Hard on the back and neck, and I had a shoulder injury, too.”

She needed options. First, she took an artistic welding class in the summer.

“I was going to be a welding sculptor. I was going to go into it big time! We (she and her husband, Brian) had a farm and I was going to fill it up with welded sculptures!”

That dream faded when Brian dissuaded her from buying a small welding machine.

“He said, ‘Let’s go in together and get a bigger one,’ ” she recalled. “He found one that was huge and SO complicated. And I thought, ‘I’m not using that!’ ”

Still working days as a hairdresser, she enrolled in the Red Deer College (RDC) art program, primarily to pursue her interest in painting.

“But once I started into ceramics I couldn’t go back to painting. It was too flat for me.”

Over the next few years, she took courses toward a two-year program certificate.

“The Program at RDC was like the first two years of a BFA (bachelor of fine arts). You start off doing everything — painting, sculpture, ceramics, design, art history and even general studies. But I was working so I could never take all the courses I needed to get a diploma.

“But once I started into ceramics I didn’t want to do anything else — I just wasn’t interested.”

The couple moved to Creston in 2009 — “I’d never been here but I just wanted to get out of prairie winters and move back to B.C.” — and bought an orchard in Erickson.

“I didn’t want to go back to hairdressing. I wanted to do ceramics, focusing on small areas of the field, not the whole shebang. I worked at trying to draw on the techniques I had learned in college and changing their use.”

In her studio, Revoy makes functional items, like mugs and drawer pulls, and sculpts clay into whimsical pieces, like the “Cirque du Poulet” display she created for a local art show, which features cartoon-like chickens in circus poses.

When she started making what she now calls her “Marie Antoinettes”, small busts reminiscent of the French heroine, Revoy spun yarn to use for their hair.

“I was spinning a lot. I had a lot of yarn, a lot of wool and I had started spinning raw sheep locks. I thought they looked like hair.”

Why Marie Antoinette?

“She was so fashion forward in her time. I had done some research about her and her designer and they are fascinating.”

Some of her inspiration comes from people who see her work.

“A lady at the Images show was looking at the Marie Antoinettes and said, ‘You need to do something with cake!’ so I’ll probably make some cake stands to display them on,” she laughed.

Borrowing techniques continues, too. She makes drawer pulls using moulds she creates herself and the shapes turned out to be perfect for parasols for her chickens, too.

Blue Moon Pottery items are sold in Invermere, Nelson, Crawford Bay, Fort Langley, Sooke and Calgary, and locally in Puffin Design on 14th Avenue and the Kunze Gallery.

Revoy has a show planned for this summer. She and fellow artists Sandy Kunze, Alison Masters and Allison Bjorkman are creating art works from vintage clothes donated by the Gleaners (where Revoy volunteers).

“Lots of polyester and ‘virgin acrylic’,’” she smiled.

While her mugs and drawer pulls are steady sellers, she has usually resisted making them on a production scale, until now.

“I actually have a partner and we are working on full production of the drawer pull business, wholesale and retail,” she said. “While I prefer not to make traditionally functional things, I have tried to make function in other forms like tiles, light fixtures and drawer pulls. Sculpture is my passion.

She points to the mermaids lying on a workshop table, partially covered with plastic to keep the clay moist. It takes a closer look to realize the scales on the lower portion of their bodies are made by dipping old crocheted doilies into slip (liquid clay) and applying them to form scales on the flippers.

“I have three of these on the go, but I think I’ll keep making more. I like that they are little bigger than most of my other pieces, and they make me happy.”

They will be in the Artrageous show in Kimberley at Centre 64, March 1-26. A public reception will be held 2-4 p.m. March 5.

A visit to Blue Moon Pottery has one particular challenge. A visitor’s eyes dart from one table to another, one shelf to the next, where Revoy’s remarkable range of creations compete for attention.

“I am always attracted to whimsical, colourful things full of patterns and textures,” she said. “I like things that evoke the feeling that there is a story it is trying to tell, whether real or imagined. The pieces I make are inspired by events and things that I see and hear around me everyday that make me smile and laugh.”

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