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The Whig Standard

A big thank you to Michael Lea at the Whig Standard who came and talked with us about our

Get Someone Muddy contest.

Enter yourself a friend, family member or neighbor here.


A local pottery studio has been seeking out people who need to reduce the stress in their lives.

Amaranth Stoneware knows the stress-busting benefits of working with clay so the owners have started up a contest where participants can nominate someone who needs to experience the relaxing qualities of the craft.

"It's just getting people thinking that this is another way to de-stress, that pottery is a great way to get muddy and zone out a bit," explained Evelyn Kembel, an employee at the studio.

They started accepting nominations July 8 and will pick a winner after nominations close Sept. 4. The person picked will get a six week-long pottery class beginning Sept. 15.

The idea for the contest came from the sight of people being so relaxed while working on a potter's wheel, Kembel explained.

Art therapy has been around for a long time and pottery is a great example of it, she continued.

"People just zone right out."

They aren't worrying about what colour the clay should be or what shape it should be. They are just enjoying the feel of it, she said.

"They have this lump of clay and they are just pushing it and moving it around and seeing what happens to it. You just let whatever happens, happen. You don't really know what you are going to get until after it is dried, glazed and fired."

They have already had about 120 nominations.

One came from a teenaged boy who nominated his mother because she worked so hard for their family. He simply wanted to do something nice for her.

Another was from a person whose neighbour was always volunteering in the community but never took time out for himself.

A third was for a nurse who helped someone through a difficult medical crisis.

People are also welcome to nominate themselves, Kembel said

"Because sometimes you have to take care of yourself."

They aren't going to judge who needs the pottery class more than someone else, she explained.

"I would just feel bad. I don't want to say this person sounds like they need it a lot more than someone else. Because we all do need to take time for ourselves and to get creative and zone out. Everyone gets stress in their life."

So they are going to let a computer pick a winner at random.

But they will also contact those nominees whose stories really touched them and offer them a chance to try pottery out.

"It's nice knowing everyone cares so much about each other. Just because the computer didn't chose you, we still want to do something special."

Nominations can be made at www.AmaranthStoneware.com/Pages/GetSomeoneMuddy.

Amaranth Stoneware had its origins about 30 years ago, explained Kembel. The name refers to a resilient, durable plant.

A couple had started the business in their garage, making mostly stoneware pieces for gardens.

Jo-Anne Warren was hired as a manager and eventually bought out the business. Now, after operating out of several different locations, she and her husband Gerald run it out of a building at 745 Development Dr.

"It's a crazy little operation happening in Kingston," said Kembel. There are currently seven potters on staff.

The pieces they create, ranging from funny sayings as wall hangings to dog bowls and landscape art, are sold around the world.

It is their first site where the public is also invited in and it has turned into a pottery resource centre, said Kembel.

Interested people can drop in to see how things are done, buy supplies or materials or have a question or two answered. They can bring in their own work to be fired or learn how to set up their own kiln.

There are also eight potters' wheels for the classes they hold. The skill levels range from people who have dabbled in the craft for years to those who haven't tried it since high school.

There are retired seniors, stay-at-home moms looking for a break from the kids, university graduates seeking something different.

Kembel had tried metalwork while in university but joked she finds pottery "not as dangerous."

"With metalwork, you can 't just zone out. You might hurt yourself," she said.

"I have always liked being a bit creative."

Pottery lets you see how a slight movement can change the shape of what you are working on, letting you create something new.

"You always can make something with pottery. It might not be a classically beautiful vase but you are always able to make something creative," she said.

"With pottery and clay it is a little bit more welcoming for all skill levels. Because all you have to do is be willing to get a little bit muddy."

Pottery seems to be more popular in the Kingston area lately, Kembel said. As well as Amaranth, there is also the Kingston Potters' Guild and the CFB Kingston pottery club.

That popularity took a real jump thanks to the movie Ghost in which Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze combined for that "iconic" scene at a potter's wheel, she said.

"It's pretty great whenever we do have couples sign up for a pottery class together. I can always tell they want that romance that Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze had."