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Walkerton Artist Uses Nature As Inspiration For Pottery

Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Chris Franey, owner of Wren and Bee Pottery in Walkerton, has always been an artist ready for a challenge. She started her career 30 years ago as a decorative painter and decided four years ago that she was ready for something new.

“Pottery was something I’d always wanted to attempt, and basically, I woke up one morning and thought ‘I’m gonna start learning to throw pottery,’” Franey says, laughing. “I’m a lifelong learner, and I always like to learn new things. I like to challenge myself, and I like to do challenging things, and pottery is at the top of my list.”

Although she still paints, Franey spends most of her time now throwing pottery. She tends to stray away from doing decorative work, and she does not sculpt. Instead, she prefers making functional pottery, like something you could eat off of.

Her wildlife management degree translates into a love of the outdoors, which she uses as a source of inspiration in her work.

“The colors and the scenes around me really affect [my work],” she says. “A lot of my inspiration comes from nature.”

It is clear how heavily nature impacts Franey in her business, right down to the name. Wren and Bee Pottery was inspired by her love of nature. Wrens are birds known for being busy and engaged, constantly flying around to investigate something new. Bees, of course, are also known for being busy, which is a characteristic Franey sees in herself.

“If I wasn’t me, I’d be a wren or a bee,” she says. “I’m usually busy and engaged in something.”

Another inspiration comes from Franey’ willingness for a challenge. Always one to try something new, overcoming challenges is her favorite part of the job.

“I’m very curious, and I like to learn, and I like the constant process of learning and improving my skill requires. That’s what motivates me,” she says.

The most unique thing, besides Franey’ outlook on life and learning, is definitely the artwork she sells.

“I don’t do production work — each piece is handmade, hand considered, and hand-decorated. I very rarely do the same thing twice, which is not only a good thing, but the way I work, too,” she says. “I like interacting with people and showing them my perception of the world around me.”

She is looking forward to perhaps, one day, taking her pottery out on the road. When she was a painter, Franey would take her artwork to different shows. She plans on doing this with her pottery when she advances more.

There are a few different ways to purchase artwork from Wren and Bee Pottery. First, you can buy it at New Kitchen Store (330 S. Liberty Street,). They are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Franey also has a studio out of her house that she sells from. The best way to contact her is via email. You can reach her at franeychris@yahoo.com.

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