Published on Nov 4, 2020

Cobalt blue and Raku: The World of Potters Robin Badger and Robert Chartier

Although both artists work with clay, complete and influence each other, they each have their own unique style. Visiting their Bolton-Ouest workshop offers us a delightful venture into the land of textures and the effects of different materials on their art.

By Natalie Sicard

We’re first conquered by the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and we can easily imagine the couple wanting to establish themselves here, after they met at the Centre de Céramique Bonsecours du Vieux Montréal. It’s also been Robin’s family farm for five generations. We’re therefore not surprised to see Highland cattle grazing in the pastures. Robert built the house, the workshop and then the boutique which opened in 1995.

“In the beginning, there was no road, no hydro, and we had to dynamite the rock here because we’re on the side of a cliff!” The result is impressive, especially the part of the workshop where these two, sharing their passion for clay, have kept the rock visible. In this creative oasis, the three kilns are constantly fired up because they have a full-time production of different pieces, dishware, service plates, bowls, vases, urns, etc.

Robin loves to create objects that please the eye as much as they are a joy to use. “I’ve always loved the feel of a handmade piece with which we can prepare and serve food. It adds this quiet, happy and subtle feeling to the daily ritual.” It’s why she offers a complete range of hand-thrown crockery, that can go from the oven to the table, as well as in the dishwasher and microwave. She’s fine-tuned her models in her kitchen from the start when she produced her first unique cobalt blue series. She was looking for her own trademark when she came upon this “glazing embryo” which delighted her and even gave her “goose bumps,” and which brings to mind, among other things, the kitchens of Europe or fields of lavender. She developed her two-level vitrification formula giving her pieces their beautiful blue colouring that has made her work stand out for several years now.

She throws all her pieces herself, whereas Robert helps her with the enamel, the finishing and the firing of her pieces. Meanwhile, he has his own line of service platters, vases, bowls and bird baths. He’s an expert in the art of raku, a firing technique, originally developed in Japan, which keeps the markings of the firing process and the thermal shock along with metallic, blackened or finely crackled effects. While “always looking for and exploring new glazes and shapes” and within his approach, he finds his inspiration primarily inside nature, and never reproduces the same items. “Each piece is unique.”

To discover their work, their workshop and the online boutique, simply click here.

Their Address Book

They’re regulars on the Tour des Arts, a circuit which proposes different stops at about 40 artisans’ workshops every summer in the municipalities of Abercorn, Bolton, Brome, Dunkin, Brome-Lake, Mansonville, Sutton and West-Brome. A great opportunity to visit them!

There are some great walks to take in the Bolton region all year long. On the way to their home, Robin brings up the pretty Quilliams Brook path. Its parking area can be found on Argyll Road at its intersection with Lakeside Road (route 243) and a little further off, on the side of St-Étienne de Bolton, we can access many trails on the Appalachian Corridor. We’ll be sure to remember this!

Robin, once in a while, likes to stop by at the boutique WB Gold Apiculture, an artisan business specializing in beehive products such as, of course, honey, but also wax, pollen, jelly, propolis and bee venom for practising apitherapy. The boutique is open to the public Saturdays from 10 :00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or by appointment on other days.

Natalie Sicard

What drives her? Communication and creation. Lifestyle, travel and decor journalist, Natalie Sicard, above all, has a deep passion for discovery. She’s been sharing her favourite finds in different written media since 1999, and has worked as a television and radio commentator. Having studied fine arts, in parallel, she’s also an artist in visual arts in all manners of expression. Here and elsewhere, in Quebec or all around the world, to get a feel of how people think, live and create, is for her a great source of inspiration. With joy and a lot of curiosity, she travels throughout the Eastern Townships to discover and introduce us to all its regions’ artisans.
Visit Natalie's website

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