Some might say that just working for Jinny Beyer is an adventure in itself. Yes, we love being a part of this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the quilting business watching fabrics and designs from conception to the finished product. We get to meet and speak with people from around the world every day. Jinny herself, though, makes it fun and brings her spirit of adventure not just in her quilts and fabrics but even into things like surprises for the staff.
In the past, we’ve been surprised with glass blowing lessons, beat-the-clock shopping, Japanese temari and mystery dinners. This year, she did it again. The date was set for this past weekend. It started as a Christmas gift idea but the weather probably wouldn’t cooperate in winter for an outside event so it came as a huge surprise outing in May. We were told to not wear loose clothing and what we did wear should be cotton. Tie back long hair and bring fireplace tongs. We figured it would involve fire but other than that we were stumped.
We met with fireplace tongs in hand and headed off just down the road a bit from the Studio to our secret destination…Pig Pen Pottery. Jinny thought that since color is so important to us in all our work, it would be fun to experiment with color in other fields of art.
Jinny has known Laura Nichols, our potter, for years. She is a founding member of Great Falls Studios, an organization of more than 100 artists in the Great Falls area, and is well known in the community. She lives in a wonderful historic home, the same house that she grew up in and her studio is just steps away in a small house her father built for his parents. Laura is also talented, patient and lots of fun.
Since time was limited and there were 10 of us, Laura had a selection of unglazed pots waiting for us. Our job was to choose two pots and decided which glaze or combination of glazes we wanted and how to apply them. We could dip, pour or paint them on. Once that was done, into the kiln they went.
Since only about six or seven could be fired at a time, we got to try our hands at throwing a pot on the wheel. Only one of us had any experience (or talent) but it was fun just the same.
We also had the opportunity to take a walk around Laura’s beautiful property with her dogs and two goats in tow!
When the pots were finally ready, we removed them from the kiln, rolled them on a bed of wood shavings on top of sand and then put a galvanized bucket on top and let them slowly cool. We were surprised to discover that what they looked like when we last saw them was not what they looked like when the bucket was removed. It was for each of us a wonderful surprise to see the finished pot in the end.
Yes, Jinny pulled off another big surprise and once again treated us to a fabulous adventure.