As the wave of 984°c heat rushed towards me, I had two thoughts: The first being that I was very glad to be wearing fireproof gear, and the second that Raku is to pottery what heavy metal is to music – rebellious and a bit dangerous. I was on my last day of a weekend Raku pottery workshop in Fredericton, and had loved every minute that I’d spent making pots and bowls, then eventually getting to the point where we put them into the flame and saw what magic the heat worked on the glazes, rendering them metallic and artistically scorched. 

I was in Fredericton primarily for the Raku, a form of ancient Japanese pottery, which I was doing as part of an EdVenture, a very popular hands-on vacation learning program that is taught by local artisans and craftspeople at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and in various other locations in the city. I had attended a silver jewelry making EdVenture a few years earlier, and loved it, so was really glad I got to make a return visit. Besides, I really liked Fredericton for lots of other reasons too.

Located on the banks of the St John River, Fredericton is the capital city of New Brunswick. It has a rich history, which is clearly evident as you stroll through the Garrison District, which is located right downtown on Queen Street. Fredericton has a vibrant downtown core, full of interesting bars, restaurants, galleries and boutiques, and is naturally pretty, offering lots of active recreation opportunities right there in the city.

But back to the EdVentures, a wonderful program that runs all summer, and is a great way to spend a day, a weekend or a week. If you love crafts, then this program is going to suit you down to the ground. You can come to Fredericton and learn anything from pottery (various forms, not just Raku), pin-hole photography, jewelry making, rug-hooking, enameling, silk painting, and many other arts and crafts. You can also learn heritage techniques in the immersive atmosphere of Kings Landing Historic Settlement, but more about that later. Because Fredericton is a hotbed of creativity, you’ll be taught by some incredibly talented people, and go home with really impressive items that you made.

Although about half of the ceramic items I made didn’t survive their first firing, I was able to take home half a dozen bowls and a vase that I love and has pride of place on my mantlepiece. The course was taught by Elizabeth Demerson, a working potter and artisan who really knows her stuff. I had so much fun molding the clay, using the wheel, and then seeing the end result that I felt inspired to do more (and was Googling the cost of kilns when I got home).

The silver bracelet I’d made at my first EdVenture has gotten lots of compliments from friends and strangers, so I know that bringing home something beautiful is part of the experience and not down to chance (more down to the skill and patience of the instructors than my raw talent). Although I attended this EdVenture solo, the last one I did with a friend, which was really fun, and there were a few (adult) mother and daughter couples in the group, which I thought was a rather sweet way to spend time together. Going solo was fine too – because classes are small and intimate, you can’t help but be on friendly terms with your classmates very soon into the courses.