Robin DuPont has studied Fine Art all over the world… But his most valuable lesson was that art is best when people make it their own… when the artwork serves a purpose beyond mere aesthetic enjoyment. Robin believes that each and every one-of-a-kind piece he creates should go on to live a life of its own. That’s why he makes functional art, art that can be touched and used, appreciated by more than just our eyes.
Scroll down to learn what’s special about this True Local artisan (and find a video at the bottom of the page!)
Where are you located?
What do you make?
I am a full time studio potter specializing in atmospheric firing, a process which reveals subtle and unpredictable tones, surfaces, and effects on my pottery. Having travelled extensively to teach, build, and fire kilns across North America and abroad, I also maintain my home and studio practice in the Slocan Valley where I utilize wood to fire my kilns to extremely hot temperatures.
In addition to the wide variety of functional forms of pottery that I make (bowls, mugs, plates, teapots, casseroles, etc.), I began making fermentation crocks five years ago.
As you know, we are proud sell your fermentation crocks here at the Co-op! In fact, tonight (May 11, 2017), we are offering a Cooking Class to teach people about basic fermentation!
Where can locals and tourists find your other work?
My wife and I have refurbished a vintage airstream trailer into a gallery space on our property in the Slocan Valley. My work is available for sale year round, and folks can contact us at 250-226-6964 for an appointment to view the gallery and new work.
How would you describe your company?
My wife and I run a small-scale studio pottery business from our home that specializes in one-of-a-kind, handmade ceramics. I make objects that are accessible and have the ability to perform in many contexts: in the kitchen, at the table, on the wall, and in the gallery setting. My work is created with the intention for it to go on to have a life on its own, one beyond my influence.
You said you use wood to fire your work… Can you tell us why?
By choosing to primarily use wood as the fuel source to fire my work, I am able to re-purpose by-products of the local forest industry that would otherwise be considered waste. The slab wood that I use to fire comes from a local mill (Harrop-Procter). I have developed a great relationship with the mill, and they’re happy to see their slab and edgings go on to support my creative practice.
How long have you been in business?
I have been making ceramics for more than 20 years. My education in this field is wide-ranging and includes educational training from four institutions in three different countries. With a graduate degree (MFA) from Utah State University, my professional development also includes an apprenticeship with a studio potter, several research and work studies in Canada, the USA, Australia and Korea. I’ve also taught ceramics at the post-secondary level at Kootenay School of the Arts, Alberta College of Art and Design and the University of Manitoba, and I now travel extensively throughout North America teaching ceramics workshops.
What motivated you to start making fermentation crocks?
Colleen Emery, of Emery Herbals in Winlaw, encouraged me to begin making fermentation crocks. It was apparent there was a need for a local product, as more people were taking an interest in DIY fermentation and the crocks available at that time that were all imported and aesthetically uninteresting.
**Psst. Watch the video at the bottom for some insight as to why Robin is a potter and not a sculptor.
How did you meet Colleen? She’s another of our True Local Suppliers at the Co-op!
We first met Colleen through mutual friends several years ago and we’ve gotten to know her since she moved to the Slocan valley to set up Emery Herbals in Winlaw. Colleen’s knowledge and community building spirit has really benefited our family and so many of our friends and neighbors. Winlaw is lucky to have her!
The Kootenays are lucky to have her!
What are some of your greatest joys?
I always feel rewarded when people tell me how much they enjoy my work, and how it becomes part of their daily lives and routines.
Can you give me an example of one of these stories or routines?
Our good friends Erin and Pat at Alligator Pie Catering have a couple of fermentation crocks bubbling away in their commercial kitchen. Pat is always experimenting with inventive new food ideas, and says the addition of ferments into their menu options has been really well received, not to mention the countertop visual appeal of a handmade crock. Pat was the first to inspire me to make smaller sized crocks that were more boutique-style and allowed for experimentation batches of kimchi and kraut. And now he wants me to make bigger ones to help feed the large groups they cater to! Using our crocks regularly has even inspired Alligator Pie Catering to start offering introductory fermentation courses to help people get over the fear of DIY fermentation.
Thanks Pat and Erin for your support!
What are some of your greatest challenges?
The physicality of what I do on a daily basis is very hard on the body. One of my greatest challenges is finding balance and making time to devote to exercise and activities that keep me in good shape.
What’s the best exercise or your favourite activity to keep you in shape for this type of work?
My youthful self knows there is nothing like picking a fresh line on a powder day or steering my downhill bike down a mountainside in the spring. But truthfully, my body relies on a stretching routine that I do each morning before going into the studio. This routine involves a series of yoga poses that are essential to keeping me limber.
What is your vision for your company?
To continue to fill people’s shelves with beautiful objects.
Why is local purchasing important to you?
Buying local and supporting your local economy is an important part of community development. I love my community, and I want to see it thrive. By buying local products and using local services, I can help my neighbors and community in a truly tangible way.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op shoppers, what would it be?
Life is too short to have an ugly fermentation crock.