Sarah Pike – Red Lodge Clay Center

Sarah PikeFernie, British Columbia, Canada

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Sarah Pike is a full-time potter, living and making functional slab-built wares in Fernie, BC, Canada, the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa. She studied ceramics at Alberta College of Art and Design, University of Colorado, and the University of Minnesota. Sarah is a proud member of the Canadian ceramic collective, Make & Do.

Sarah is very interested in making stamps and texture tools and pressing them into soft clay. Lately, she is obsessing over the ogee curve and how it tessellates across a form. Her natural habitat is her studio, but if she isn’t making pots, she is probably out exploring the mountains around her home by ski or bike. She is generally thinking about snacks.

Sarah’s pottery is inspired by many things, including the landscape around her home, the rich history of pottery, but also by antique tinware, textured metal, interesting fabric patterns, and the old things you might find in barns.

As potters we have a practiced sense of touch. A practiced sense of the space between our thumb and fingers. We can sense the clay’s softness in that space; its thickness; its plasticity. Our hands sense the form: they feel a break in curve or change of plane as our fingers glide up a surface. Through touch we know when to push more volume and when to release pressure. The haptics fire messages to our brains. The visual, like the wept to the haptic warp, weaves intuitive and formal messages into the process. A beautiful and very familiar visuotactile interaction. We lift the form and feel its weight. We stand back and examine it from different angles. We make adjustments based on multi-sensory perceptions. At some point the pot is hard and fired and capable of use. Someone picks it up in their hands. Their fingers explore form and surface. Lips sip at the rim. The multi-sensory conversation continues: a haptic feedback loop.

Our current reality oscillates between technology and the natural realm. Tech companies implement haptics into our devices, revealing just how important this feedback is to our sense of connection: haptic responses make our interactions with technology more human. In this pandemic a few things about ourselves came to light. One is the importance of touch and non-verbal communication: a handshake, a kiss on the cheek, a touch on the shoulder, a warm embrace. We were starved for it. We are undeniably inextricably tied to the sense of touch.

I love the contemplative moment when my hands wrap around a hand-formed mug of warm liquid; the heat radiating into my bones; the weight and balance of a mug in my hand. My fingers explore the surface. They register the sensation of the texture of the clay. They read its tactile story. They are reading an ancient story about human interaction and beautiful old-school haptics.