156473 7th Line, Meaford, N4L 1W6
Just outside of the small town of Rocklyn through a thicket of trees you’ll find the Source Works Ceramics gallery and studio owned by local artist Melanie Earle. The gallery is filled with gorgeous paintings, ceramics, and sculptures making it worth the drive to check out. Melanie describes Source Works pieces as very unique. “I get a lot of inspiration from nature, all my pieces are a little bit different so in terms of looking for something for a gift for yourself or to mark something important in your life I have things like that”. She also does custom work and tells me that she has done custom work for people’s homes in the past. The products include functional coffee mugs, jewelry, giftware, and she offers classes and workshops.
A little history about Melanie
Melanie attended OCAD university from 1981- 85 studying experimental art with a focus in painting and sculpture. After finishing there she went into the commercial arts working in animation as a colourist for six or seven years. From there she decided that she didn’t enjoy the commercial arts and wanted to do something more creative so she started doing production work with learning how to do mold making and slip casting and has been doing this for probably 20 years. She started off doing lots and lots of craft shows and festivals. “So every weekend I would pack up spring to fall and drive all over Ontario, set up a booth, sell my stuff and that’s how I got to this part here,” Melanie explains, “we moved to this piece of land from the city and built the house first and this gallery and studio is now 3 years old”. Melanie also tells us she loves being here full time now because it allows her to do different kinds of pieces – more sculpture, more painting. She also says that the space allows her to do more than just the festivals and craft shows which she loves because people can come to her and she can showcase a lot more of her work.
What Melanie is most known for
Melanie tells me she is most known for her slipcasting ceramics. “I’ve been doing that for so many years that people recognize them”. It is also her slipcasting ceramics that set her aside from other ceramics artists. She explains “people think of clay and they think of a potter’s wheel, but I make my own molds. I do slip casting which is making pieces with molds’ . . . ‘so I get a limited production line of a few pieces that are identical so you can collect or mix and match”. Those pieces are also signature to Melanie and feature her own imagery from start to finish.
How Melanie creates her masterpieces
For those who don’t know as much about ceramics, Melanie’s website explains that slipcasting “is a process that involves pouring liquid clay – slip – into plaster molds”. She creates the original piece out of clay and then casts a plaster mold from the clay piece. Slip is then poured into the plaster mold three to four times and is then left to dry. After the piece has dried Melanie cleans up its registration marks and fires it in the kiln as greenware and then glazes and fires it again to finish off her wonderful work of art.
Making connections with customers
When I asked Melanie what about Source Works Ceramics is she the most passionate about she explained that although she adores creating all of her pieces, she really loves when people come in and she gets to have a one-to-one interaction with customers. “Working as an artist is a pretty solitary occupation,” Melanie says, “so it’s nice when I have shows here and I do a studio tour once a year, and its open all year so I have people drop in. Making the connection; people love to ask me about how I came up with a piece and I find out why they’re interested”. She also tells me that in the future she’d love to explore sculpture more as it’s something that gives her more ideas for other things as well.
Melanie’s take on the area
With so many opportunities for outdoor recreation all year round, many people are quick to assume that Grey-Bruce is a recreation destination alone. But Melanie is here to prove that the area is even more than that “it’s a really great area, there’s lots of artists and lots of support, lots of musicians, lots of different things to do. It’s not just cottage country and I think a lot of people think that’s all it is, but, [there is] lots of creativity up here too.” She also adds that she loves having her studio in the country outside of Rocklyn and tells me that she adores her beautiful view and loves having so much inspiration surrounding her all the time. Creativity thrives in Grey-Bruce in the beautiful Grey Highlands.
How you can reach Melanie
You can visit Melanie in her studio gallery just outside of Rocklyn on the 7th line driving towards Meaford or visit her website www.source-works.ca. She has also been a part of some local studio tours including the Autumn Leaves Studio tour. When you get the opportunity be sure to stop in and see her beautiful work!