Nanoose Bay studio tours this weekend

Local potter shows off some of her finest work at Nanoose Bay studio

Betty Assaf holds one of her hand built pieces of pottery she glazed with clay sourced from a local creek.

Betty Assaf holds one of her hand built pieces of pottery she glazed with clay sourced from a local creek.

If you are starting your Christmas shopping early or just looking for an interesting outing, you may want to drive around Nanoose Bay this weekend and check out the art work being created by local artisans.

The Nanoose Bay Studio Tour will feature 18 artists with diverse talents.

Betty Assaf Pottery is one of the three pottery studios on the tour. Her pottery includes unique Raku-fired pots and sculptures inspired by nature. Assaf has been working with clay since 1960 and said the mainstay of her work is practical stoneware, but she also creates one-of-a-kind pieces.

A variety of glazes are used for her pinch pot vases including some that incorporate local clay for a unique and durable finish. Assaf said she gathers clay from various creeks and uses it to create some earthy-coloured glazes.

“I dig in various sources to make the glaze. It is labour intensive but satisfying too,” she admitted.

Assaf said a bucket full of clay will make a lot of earth-tone glaze and while she hasn’t been digging in the mud lately, she added it is something she would like to get back into.

When firing her pots, Assaf likes the Raku method because you never know what the finished product will turn out like. Two of her hand-built Raku pieces on display in her studio are not only unique, but award winners. Assaf said one of them won first prize at a show in Nanaimo while the other got an honorable mention.

Assaf’s studio is nestled amidst towering cedar and Douglas fir trees next to her bed and breakfast on Saunders Road.

If you are curious about how metal is hand forged into art pieces, visit Dave Kasprick at the Red Cod Forge. Kasprick recycles steel to create abstract and free-form sculptures.

Trish Widdershoven recycles the beach into driftwood framed mirrors, picture frames, boxes and wall art. In her studio you will also find the fibre art of Gail Steinberg.

The photography of Craig Carmichael of Island Exposures Gallery and Dorothy Morrison is a feast for the eyes. Leanne Helin crafts original Tsimshian Native jewelry in her studio located near Buckingham Stencils on Morello Road.

The third annual tour — spearheaded by Nancy Day, president of the group — runs Oct. 8, 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Brochures with a map are available at the Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo visitor centres. Download the information at


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