All fired up

The Stoneware Gallery is a co-operatively run shop that gives lauded local artisans a place to potter


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When it comes to careers, Kathryne Koop’s has been set in stone.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/10/2022 (237 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When it comes to careers, Kathryne Koop’s has been set in stone.

Koop has been a potter for 41 years and is one of the shopkeepers at the Stoneware Gallery.

“I started young in this gallery. It’s been my life, my career, my passion,” said the artist, who works out of her home studio.


Kathryne Koop is a long-standing member of the Stoneware Gallery, which is co-operatively managed by a group of potters.

The Stoneware Gallery, founded in 1978, is one of the oldest pottery shops in Canada that is co-operatively managed by a group of artists. It currently has 15 members — all of them ceramic artists from around Manitoba — who have received national and international recognition. Each of them is self-employed, but shares in the operation and expenses of the store, which offers a vast array of one-of-a-kind styles and techniques.

The 778 Corydon Ave. location is home to two pottery collectives in Winnipeg. The Stoneware Gallery showcases and sells the work of its members, while the Stoneware Studio offers classes to the public. The two businesses work in harmony with each another, but operate separately.

“The studio is set to teach classes,” Koop said. “The kiln is in there. Each artist in the gallery has their own studio at home, but several in the gallery fire in the big kiln in the back. Our classes are completely full. Having the gallery attached to the studio is an advantage. The students are big customers of ours.”

Over the years the Stoneware Gallery has provided many ceramic artists with the security and stability of a dedicated space and a consistent market for their work. The shared workload and costs associated with running the business allows artists the freedom and the time to choose pottery as their career.

“We call ourselves a co-operative but we really are a partnership,” said Koop. “I became a partner in 1981. I’m the second-longest member here. People have come and gone.

“What this place has provided for us is a wonderful outlet to be able to have our work displayed all year round. The way we are structured is we pay equal rent, which covers utilities, insurance and overhead costs. The individual artist gets all the profits except for packaging. Basically, the artist gets all of the money.


The gallery features a rotating display of one-of-a-kind work from its 15 members.

“We take turns being shopkeeper. All responsibilities are divided up. I look after the website, and I’m the one who answers all the emails. Some people do a lot more work than others, but because we have enough very dedicated people, that’s what helps to maintain us.

“When a partner leaves, we have room for another. There’s jury process. We have figured out a way to make this work for us.”

Daniela Wightman is a customer who commissioned artist Valerie Metcalfe to design a tea set for her. She appreciates the fact that customers can find unique, fascinating pieces in Winnipeg and she enjoyed the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

“She created a lovely set that is traditional yet modern,” said Wightman. “I am hoping to host a tea party for the ladies of my acquaintance. Valerie talked about the process of firing the clay, touching on how it is still practiced in places in Asia, and showed me the kiln in the back of the shop.”

Wightman likened the shop to an art gallery featuring the work of local artists who practise an ancient craft. “There are a variety of artistic styles on display that range from vaguely prehistoric to colourful, childlike and whimsical,” she said.

The Stoneware Gallery boasts one the largest displays of pottery available in Canada.


The Stoneware Gallery on Corydon Avenue features local pottery in a wide array of styles.

“We definitely are unique in that all we sell is pottery,” said Koop. “Nothing in here is mass-produced; it’s one piece at a time. We are very experienced potters.”

Citing the high quality, wide selection, and their numerous signature styles, she added, “Customers zero in on one artist’s work because they’re attracted to them. There really is something for everyone. The calibre is very high.

“One other thing that has kept us viable is that we switch and move everything every six weeks. Some areas are a bit better than others. It gives everyone a chance to display; it’s very fair. Nobody feels they are being underseen, that they’re somehow minimalized. Everything is very mapped out. You can see the names of each artist at each unit.”

The Stoneware Gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and holds two sales a year: one in spring and one in fall. The upcoming sale will be held Nov. 14-19, with sale items highlighted in the gallery. There’s an online store that allows customers to view a sample of the collection.

“We just really are our own little world. We are very supportive of each other, a real community. We have each other’s best interests in mind. We hope that that reflects through the gallery. We love to see people come in.

“We really are artists, and we try to be good business people,” Koop summarized, with a laugh.


The Stoneware Gallery building is also home to the Stoneware Studio, which offers pottery classes to the public.


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