So you took a gnome-making class at the Spark Centre and now you want to do pottery! Getting your hands dirty and shaping the clay into a creation feels great and pays off with a permanent work of art for your home, but there's more to joining the Weyburn Pottery Club than simply the desire to make things.

We checked in with Regan Lanning, City Curator and Arts Coordinator with the Weyburn Arts Council, who is herself an experienced potter. 

"In order to have access to the pottery studio here at the Credit Union Spark Centre, you must first complete our Adult Clay program, which is a six week program taught by Darlene Martin, and it will teach you how to build a few projects," she explained. "It also goes over studio safety so that once you complete the program and you join the studio, and you join the club, you know enough that you're not actively a danger to yourself or others. You have to know some things before you just jump into the pottery studio and start making."

While a membership to the club is only $20 per year, the six-week course is also an investment, as is regular facility entry to the Spark Centre.

"Your membership gives you access to our studio when there are no classes going on, and it gives you full use of all the materials that you find in the studio, like the throwing wheels, which you can use if you've taken the throwing classes, the slab rollers, the glazes, all that stuff, is included in your membership. 

Lanning said they have around 25 members and the studio is very rarely empty. Club night is the first Monday of every month. 

"We always have one of our mentors there, I call them Clay Wizards. They are older members of the club who've been making clay for longer, and they're there to help you, answer questions, and make sure you know you're doing things correctly," she noted. 

There are also classes held for members, involving insider tips like correcting mistakes in glazing, for example.

Outside clay, Lanning said, is not allowed. 

"Having people bring in their own clay is a recipe for disaster. We provide clay at the Spark Centre, per bag, and you can buy at the front desk."

She said they have four different kinds of clay, as specific clay is required for their kiln, and, when you buy a bag of clay, that includes all of your firing fees, as are the glazes.

"When you take the class, you're taught all these things. There are so many aspects to clay and to pottery that if you don't have training, you can really get yourself in trouble and you'll get in over your head and you can actively be a danger just because you don't know the safety of what you're doing. So that's why the adult pottery class is so important. It goes over all these ins and outs."

"We teach you the differences in the clay bodies so you know what you're getting. We instruct you on how to glaze. And then we're available on Mondays to make sure that you're doing that correctly because glazing is very difficult in itself and most of our adult pottery class focuses on the building and the safety, so we only have one class where we're focusing on glazing. So we make sure as Clay Wizards, that we're available to make sure that people can glaze their works properly."

Lanning said the course taught by Darlene Martin leads participants through five projects in all. This does not include wheel-throwing, which is a separate course, and it is also needed before you can gain access to the wheel. The kiln is loaded up strictly by Lanning as well. 

"You never stop learning with clay, there's always something new. There's always a different technique. There's always something you haven't tried. And after you come out of that six-week class, you know enough not to be a danger, but you're a newbie. You're just starting your clay journey. So if you come to those Monday nights, there's always a club member around who can help guide you and help you continue your education and clay."

If it has been a few years since you took the introductory course, or have recently studied it in university, you can take a test with Lanning to ensure you know your safe studio behaviours. 

"We have a great community in the pottery world here in Weyburn, and everyone is willing to share what they know and as long as you're willing to learn, it is a great environment to be a part of."

Lanning said, "I couldn't imagine walking into a studio and making something with absolutely no education behind it. You wouldn't know how to get clay, you wouldn't know where the tools are. There's so many things that go beyond what we teach in a one-off class like gnomes, that I would just shut down if I didn't have the wonderful instructors that I've had over the years."

She added she took her first clay course with Casey Kievits in 1988. 

"I was sold. The community we have now was built off of the community that we had then, and we wouldn't know what we know and we wouldn't be as strong as we were if we didn't have those members back in the 80s and 90s teaching us along the way."

Find registration details for the Clay course HERE and check out the photos taken in the Pottery Studio by Mack Kohl.