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Meet Darlene Swan

When looking at pottery created by Darlene Swan, the first element to strike the senses is her use of colour.

Unique in her own right, Darlene is one of only a few in this region to utilize the technique of ‘majolica’. If you are unfamiliar with the term, don’t fret, you are likely more familiar with the style than you think.  

This ancient technique has been used frequently in areas like Spain and Italy to paint vibrantly on a redder clay that has been base coated in a white opaque glaze.


To Darlene, the vibrant decorative stage of the process is her favourite part.  

“I don't think it appeals to everyone, because it's really in-your-face bright and colourful, and sort of "pow" kind of stuff,” said Darlene.  

“It's not calm and hidden away. It sort of demands attention.

“I use a red clay, and it's a very gorgeous red clay. It's got mica flecks in it, and then I fire it, and put the majolica glaze on it.

“The majolica glaze is pure white, and it's opaque, so it covers the dark clay.”

On every one of her pieces, however, if you look carefully, there is left a portion of exposed clay.

“I do always like to keep some of that clay, even if it's just in the foot, open, because it's so rich and it's such a nice contrast between the glaze and then the clay.

“Once I've got the majolica on, then I'll go into the decoration, and really, I guess I'm a decorating potter now.

“I actually even get some help throwing stuff.”

Her use of the majolica technique in conjunction with modern designs creates one-of-a-kind pieces that are very obviously one-of-a-kind, giving them the feel of collectors items.  

She stumbled across the majolica technique in an attempt to increase her efficiency in using the kiln.  

“Total opposite from where I started.

“It's like I've found a little niche, and I came into it by accident.

“It took me too long to fill my kiln with bisque stuff and I would have to do a bisque firing and then the glaze firing.

“Someone said to me, ‘why don't you try majolica, because you can bisque and glaze in the same firing?’ But since, I found out you can't.

“In the meantime, I got hooked on this method, because I actually just love the decorating. I just go into another space.”

Her passion for the decorating portion of the process shines through in every one of her pieces.  

As bright as her art comes across, it is often inspired by natural elements, lending it a brilliant contrast between organic and contemporary.

“I get inspiration from my garden, so I'll have big roses or I'll have dandelions. Or I did a whole series of wildflowers.

“I also really like putting organic things with inorganic.  Often, my rims are geometric, either in stripes or squares or a solid colour with orderly polka dots. And then the inside part will be flowers or flowers.”

“I get inspiration from my life, my horse and my dogs have appeared on a number of my pieces. I can do little fun little paintings, and I kind of don't take my stuff too seriously.

“I really like the whimsical side.”

November 29, 2017

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