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Palette to Palate: JP Bondy, potter

JP Bondy, Potter
JP takes pride in how far he’s come as a potter, and the quality of his and his students’ finished creations.

In downtown Amherstburg, near the corner of Dalhousie Street and Rankin Avenue, there is a magical place. It’s not a castle per se, but rather a tidy pink house. You won’t find any fairies or gnomes (although, maybe ceramic ones?), and luckily, no ogres will pop out to drag you off to a cave. But there is something spellbinding going on and the magic happens in an unpretentious pottery studio in the backyard. 

John Paul Bondy has lived in the pink house since the early 90’s, and has been practicing pottery since roughly 2016. You may not have stopped to consider that the art of pottery could be seen as magic, but when you behold what local artist JP, as he is known to all, can conjure up out of a mere lump of clay, there can be no doubts left in your mind that there is some legitimate sorcery happening in the shed. As the Rivertown Times debuts its new monthly Arts and Entertainment section, JP seemed like an obvious choice as our first artist feature. Also, we just HAD to know why his house is pink. 

We met up with JP on a dreary January day (aren’t they all?) but despite the weather being less than ideal, we forgot all about it as we were welcomed into his warm and cozy backyard studio. JP himself was covered in clay and dust, so rather than shake hands we fist bumped. Some people have man-caves or she-sheds in their yard, maybe with a fireplace; but he has a studio with pottery wheels, boxes of clay, tools, shelves of finished pieces, shelves of projects still in-progress, and not a fireplace, but rather a kiln. In fact, it was so toasty that we even cracked the windows as we chatted. It’s a comfortable space that JP uses to create his bowls, mugs, vases, and other treasures, and he teaches classes here as well. It’s a large enough room for three to four people to move around in, and there’s also a garage door that can open up during warmer months and bring in some fresh air. Basically, it’s a really neat place to visit.   

The art of making pottery has been around for millennia, but it’s one of those things that, while most of us know what it is, we don’t really know anyone who does it. For sure it requires some equipment and space, but also a teacher to guide you. JP actually has clay in his blood, as his father, Dick Bondy, was also a potter, and some of you may even still treasure some of his mugs or piggy banks from back in the 70’s. Unfortunately, he gave away his potter’s wheel when JP was 10. Seven years ago, this family heirloom made its way back into JP’s life, and that’s when he officially took up the hobby. A hobby which has now become a side business.

Along with selling his finished pieces locally, he teaches pottery classes in his studio and at an after school art program for teens. As he put it, his wife Patti is very supportive of his hobby, but she eventually told him “now you need to find a way to pay for all the stuff in the shed.” He is also an active member of the Gibson Gallery; you may have seen him during Open Air Weekends doing his “Pottery on the Street” demons, or at The Gibson Gallery’s big event Art by the River zooming around on a golf cart. As someone who is so ensconced in the local art scene in Amherstburg, (and is also a member of the Windsor Area Potters), we asked him what he thought the future might hold for artists in the area. 

“I think there is definitely room for more frequent and diverse art events, but someone needs to step up to plan them. And we need community buy in. I would love to see a space where we have multiple artists in one location, almost like a co-op. They could each have their own small studio where they can sell their creations, but people can also take lessons. They could try many different things in just one place.” He himself would be interested in having a set-up on his lawn during local events, and will look into whether it’s permitted. (We absolutely love this idea too, so if anyone is interested in making it happen, let us know). 

He believes that the future of the art scene in Amherstburg will only get better. He predicts there will be more going on as the town swells with new artists and interest from residents. But how can we encourage these new artists? We asked if he has any sage advice for those looking to find their place. “Try everything!” he says. He suggests going to classes to find something that you really like, and then work hard to practice your craft. Art can be an ever evolving lifelong journey, but if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, then you’ll hone your skills and gain confidence. But most importantly though, he advises “don’t overthink it.” 

Pink House Pottery display

If you were so inclined to treat yourself or a loved one to a pottery lesson this Valentine’s Day, it’s as easy as visiting the Pink House Pottery on social media and booking a class. Your initial class is 2-hours, and JP swears that you will end up with at least 2-3 pieces that ‘survive’. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday of love, by doing something you love, in a pink house. 

OH YES! Why is the house pink? “Because white was boring.” Spoken like a true artist. 

By Tammy Joho - Special to the RTT

Artist Feature

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