All fired up

Glendale News Press

A local tradition, the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge Ceramics Department's Annual Spring Sale, will continue this weekend with more than 50 local potters selling their original, handmade work.

Ceramics students from the center and Glendale Community College will sell their bowls, cups and other creations from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Proceeds from the sale, which takes place at the center, go toward the individual artists and the center itself.

Instructor Tom Puckett has worked at the center for two years and has done ceramics since his first class in 1994.

"I get to play with clay," Puckett said. "That's what I tell people. It shouldn't be a stressed-out thing at all; you should be enjoying it. Ceramics takes the time it makes. The process is not a fast one."

The Woodland Hills resident looks forward to selling his own work and seeing what his students will have at the show. His wheel-thrown stoneware will feature functional bowls and plates. Puckett uses a Shino glaze, a Japanese style of pottery glaze that leaves an ashy, raw burn look.

The pieces at the show are one-of-a-kind products that aren't often sold in stores or manufactured, he said.

"Someone has put a lot of time and effort into it," Puckett said. "You can go and buy a bowl at Target or Wal-Mart for a buck, or you can come here and buy a dip bowl and use it for your cereal. It's handmade; it's one of a kind stuff."

The show is significant to La Cañada, an active ceramic art community where artists range from ages three to 90, said Miriam Balcazar, director of the community center ceramics program.

"I think that the one important thing about this sale is that we have all levels of potters," she said. "We have beginners who are participating for the first time, and we have professionals who have been contributing for many years. There's a lot of competition in this room. We have really great artists who come to our sale with things that make a home."

Balcazar has watched the transformation of artists who were once students at the center who moved on to have their own home studios.

These artists often create more than mugs, cups and vases. They advance to animal figurines, lamps or conceptual, nontraditional forms.

Balcazar's own fire pieces will be featured at the sale, and she would like to bring these saggar firings to the center for fall courses. Saggar firings have seaweed and sawdust addedduring firing. Once the piece is in the kiln, the seaweed and sawdust burn smoky red, oranges and peaches. After the vessels are fired, an artist can wax them for a glossy effect.

The teacher hopes this year's sale will continue to inspire more people to take classes at the center.

"A lot of people know about the sale," Balcazar said. "We have a lot of regulars, and we're very happy with that. I think there's a lot of love for ceramics in our community. Many people have come to our sale and signed up for our classes after that."

The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge is located at 4469 Chevy Chase Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. To learn more about the sale, visit

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