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Bearpawttery uses Creative Saskatchewan grant to participate in pre-eminent global online clay event



Bearpawttery is as adorable as it sounds…seriously, check out this amazing handmade “pawttery” here. Behind the bushy tails and little ears is a Saskatoon-based ceramicist, Bear Won.


Won first began creating pottery in 2018 with a class at a community studio in Saskatoon. In the months that followed, she began to experiment more and dipped her toes into a part-time practice.


By 2020, Won made the bold decision to build herself a tiny clay studio in her apartment to allow her to dedicate more time to further exploring clay and making pots. “This endeavour has been an evolution of my passion for clay,” says Won fondly, “so the process has been very natural and smooth.”


In January 2022, Won was invited to be a virtual market vendor at The Ceramics Congress, a five-day global conference of all things ceramic. “I was thrilled to have the chance to participate!” Won says. Vendors at this event must have a way to present their work to the market, so building a website was an important component for Won’s growing business. It was a fellow ceramicist who encouraged Won to consider approaching Creative Saskatchewan for assistance. “As I did not have a lot of funds to invest in this project, the Market & Export Development Micro Stream grant from Creative Saskatchewan seemed like a perfect opportunity to reach the milestone.”


When asked about her experience with Creative Saskatchewan, Won says it has been positive from the start. “I am very new to making applications for grants, so I had a lot of questions from the beginning. It was very easy to set up an online meeting with a Creative Saskatchewan program officer, and they were all very helpful and friendly during our meetings, and beyond. The support from the staff has helped me a lot and made writing the grant application much less intimidating than I imagined.”



The Market and Export Development – Micro Stream program has helped Won to build her brand with a quality logo, recognizable identity, and digital sales outlet which is more flexible and powerful than the limitations of social media. She can now better reach both new and existing customers in a professional way. “The financial support I received has given me the opportunity to comfortably expand the scope and vision of my project, instead of trying to aggressively manage my expenses alone.”


Won will tend to her website regularly, and once her sales increase she plans to reinvest the revenue back to her business and use it to innovate her practice.


Won’s ceramics-related activities have expanded to entirely fill the amount of time she would otherwise dedicate to traditional workplace. While her practice is new and she has some growing and learning to do before her business is in a place to provide her with long-term, sustainable income, we hope that this is the first step of many on Won’s journey to becoming a self-sustaining ceramicist.


When asked what advice Won has for aspiring artists looking to commercialize their business, she says “If you are considering writing a grant application but are not sure if you’re ‘good enough’, DO IT!”

 

About Bear Won


Hi, I am Bear. I live in Saskatoon, Canada.


My ceramics are made for daily enjoyment. I try to create pieces which are special, yet not too precious to be touched. As much as I enjoy making pots, I LOVE to know others enjoy using them. I don’t always have deep thoughts about why I make what I make, but that’s only because my creations sometimes make people smile.


One of the things I love most about clay is the community which surrounds this practice. Since I started my clay journey, I have been very fortunate to meet so many people who are generous with their time, knowledge and resources. I am grateful to have been welcomed into this global clay family. This environment continues to strengthen my desire to explore my possibilities in clay world!


“I take a lot of inspiration from the brighter and cuter aspects of nature. Illustrations from cartoons and comics have given me a perspective on the natural world, and help me transform my imaginations into reality.”


Bear’s work is available for purchase at www.bearpawttery.ca, and at two Saskatoon retailers, Handmade House and Alt Haus.