Before falling in love with pottery, Sutton-based artist Qita Reindler discovered her life’s true passion as a teacher. As an ESL teacher in Granby, Reindler poured her energy into helping her students grow in English. Pottery was a foreign language until a friend introduced her to the practice, and she found herself in a new world that fit her like a second skin.
“It was an instant love affair,” she explains. “It was strange; it was as if I had done it before.”
It’s hard to say exactly what draws us to certain things, but the universe began lining up a string of events for Reindler to make the plunge into becoming a professional potter. A sudden onset of unexplained hearing loss led her to feeling uncomfortable teaching in a classroom, especially in a subject that relies on the nuances of pronunciation. Before she knew it, she was changing her role as a teacher in pursuit of her new passion for pottery.
Reindler describes her artistic practice as a “moving meditation”. When her hands touch clay, whether it’s stoneware or porcelain, she finds herself in a therapeutic state of mind as the creative side of her brain is fully activated.
“There’s a saying: busy hands, quiet mind,” Reindler says. “It’s very true. You’re focused, you’re present in your hands, and time disappears. You aren’t thinking about your Christmas list or your kids or bills or problems. You’re just focusing on what you’re doing.”
Initially, Reindler didn’t set out to make a career out of pottery. Her goal was just to learn more about her new fascination, but one thing led to another, and she soon saw herself opening up her own studio. This space allowed for the natural congregation of her two passions in life, as her quick success as a potter led her to teaching pottery classes for children and adults.
As her practice grew, so did her experimentation, and she began to try out a number of glazes and colours, giving her objects a wide variety of looks. Traditionally, potters develop one or two glazes and stick to them because of how difficult each glaze is to master, having individual personalities and reactions when fired in a kiln. Layering glazes and textures became Reindler’s trademark as an artist, as she grew to love the possibilities that each glaze presented.
“Yellow over blue [glaze] does not necessarily make green, which it would with paint,” she explains. “In glazes, the chemistry of it, yellow over blue could make light blue or purple or brown, something completely unexpected.”
It’s the unpredictability of this art form that pushes Reindler forward, even knowing how temperamental pottery can be. After placing a clay object into an electric kiln, a potter isn’t entirely sure what the final results will be, as there are many factors that can influence the final outcome of a piece, including technique, timing, chemistry, and the weather.
“I always tell my students that pottery is a great teacher of detachment,” she says. “Great teacher of patience. Great teacher of letting go.”
Reindler’s projects are varied in not only colour but utility, using kitchen-safe glazes to make functional art. Her kitchenware projects include designing ramen bowls for Kokkaku Ramen in Sutton, an artistically fulfilling venture that will allow many people to come into contact with her art.
Facilitating a deep connection between a person and her pottery is important to Reindler, which is why she is also developing a niche in creating personalized funeral urns made to symbolize a person’s life. While some may shy away from speaking candidly about death, Reindler has always been a spiritual person who is not afraid to face the realities of this realm, which is evident in the level of care she has while sculpting these special items.
“Recently someone came to me wanting an urn for his mother who was ill, but had not yet passed away,” she explains. “I made an urn carved with her favourite flowers, favourite colour, and her name […] He was very touched by it, which was a sort of positive thing in light of a negative situation, and I was very touched to be able to share that process with him and to comfort him.”
There’s a delicate beauty in laying the person you love to rest in a handmade creation, one that ensures their memory will be passed on in a personalized piece of art. This type of functional pottery is what captivates Reindler the most, as she can see the objects she crafts making an impact on people’s lives. Seeing her creations bring comfort and joy to people is what inspires her as a potter, as she continues to explore new ground with her ceramics.
“I’m always doing lots of different things at once. I like variety, like my glazes. Everytime you come to my shop, you’ll find something new.”
Reindler’s studio is located at 1410 Route Scenic in Sutton and open by appointment only. You can find more of her work and get information about pottery lessons on studioqita.ca or by email at email@example.com.
This project has been made possible by the Community Media Strategic Support Fund offered jointly by the Official Language Minority Community Media Consortium and the Government of Canada.