For former Golden resident Ryan Cameron, owning and operating his own pottery business, Velvet Antler Pottery, is a dream come true. Opening in 1982, he is thankful for his business every day.
Growing up in Golden, his grandmother had a significant influence on him, encouraging him to develop his creative side and pursue the arts. Her influence led him to Red Deer College, where he studied art. It was there, in his ceramics class, that he met his future wife and business partner Kathryn.
“It’s a process of living the dream,” said Cameron. “The dream unfolds over time, because you can’t dream the whole dream at once.”
Located in Field, the inspiration for the business came when Cameron was on the bus from Golden to Red Deer, when he had a brief stop in Banff. Visiting a craft gallery called Quest, he was inspired to start a gallery of his own.
“I wanted to start a high quality craft gallery, and now here we are 37 years later,” said Cameron. “We’ve developed a destination for people to visit when they visit the park.”
Velvet Antler wasn’t always the plan for the Camerons. Initially, the plan was to move to Field for a few months, save up some money, and move to Invermere.
“We liked it so much that we got different jobs and found a place to sell our pottery,” said Kathryn Cameron. “It was always the plan to get into pottery and sell ceramics for us.”
Velvet Antler set itself apart through their manufacturing process. Their kiln, which is gas powered and runs at 1300 degrees Celsius, allows them to produce a wide range of colour that many others do not get.
They also set themselves apart from other clay businesses due to the authentic nature of their products.
Everything sold is made in house, with only the materials being sourced wholesale from outside the business.
It’s also a generational business, with the Camerons’ daughter Caitlin getting involved with painting some of the ceramics.
“When you come in the front door you see the workshop, people get to see us work and our process,” said Kathryn. “It’s really hands on here, we’re like a very tiny manufacturing business. It’s absolutely worth it.”
The business isn’t just about the money for the Cameron family.
Cameron sees the business as a way of providing beauty for their patrons, something that he thinks is sorely needed.
“There was a great Russian writer who said ‘beauty will save the world because nothing else has worked,’” said Cameron. “The money isn’t our primary motivation, it’s unloading the kiln with the beautiful pots inside.”
At 314 Stephen Ave, Field B.C., Velvet Antler Pottery also functions as a gallery of their own work. Kathryn recommends making a day out of a trip to Field, checking out the parks as well as the art. And if you’re looking for the perfect authentic souvenir, the Camerons have you covered.