Never a dull moment at the Red Deer Pottery Club, says a 50-year member

Joyce Kibermanis, 86, has never stopped learning

How many clay pots can be built in half a century?

Red Deer Pottery Club member Joyce Kibermanis has forged a ceramic mountain of bowls, vases and sculptures since joining the group in 1969.

Now celebrating her 50th anniversary as a club member, the Oriole Park resident is still going strong, making decorative vessels, butter dishes, birdbaths and functional bowls that she sells to the public or uses as gifts to friends.

“I’ve had some people say to me, ‘Oh, you’re still doing that?’” said Kibermanis, 86, with mock amazement.

“But with pottery, there’s always something new to learn. There are always new methods, new ways of decorating… It never gets boring.”

Kibermanis was 36 when her son and daughter hit their pre-teen years and she decided it was time to explore her own interests.

She’d always been a creative person, sewing her daughter’s clothes and stitching purses. As a child, Kibermanis remembers being given Plasticine to play with in the one-room schoolhouse she attended near Caroline, whenever the teacher was busy instructing older kids.

Perhaps those modelling clay memories were stirred up when Kibermanis’s friend suggested they join the local pottery club. In any case, Kibermanis thought she’d give it a whirl.

Decades after her friend moved away and left the club, she still attends weekly club meetings — although Kibermanis now builds most of her pieces at home and just brings them in for firings.

Since the club has grown to about 60 members, Kibermanis said there often isn’t enough table space to build in the Red Deer Recreation Centre space. But she still enjoys going in for conversations with like-minded people.

They often compare notes at meetings on the latest creations in pottery magazines, as well as draw inspiration from each other.

It doesn’t matter if two people are working on similar projects, said Kibermanis — the pieces always come out much different in the end, since the firing and glazing process is prone to so many surprises, some fortuitous, and others, not so much.

She shows two objects that were both glazed the same way before being put through the outdoor low-fire raku process. The larger one, pressed with the veins of a rhubarb leaf, is a lilac colour. The other plate with flower imprints is full of iridescent oranges and purples.

That kind of result keeps it interesting, said Kibermanis, a widow of a dozen years who uses the potter’s wheel and can also free-hand build and paint onto some of her ceramic pieces.

Being part of the Red Deer Pottery Club, which holds two public shows and sales a year, is as much about the people as the art, she admits. “I have forged some good friendships there.”

More information about the group can be found at

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