Northeastern Folk Art

About: Pottery business, specializing in raku
Available At: Quidi Vidi Plantation, Some Good Market, Craft Council of NL, The Newfoundland Weavery, The Rooms, Gros Morne
Tel: (709) 754-4665

Northeastern Folk Art was born in 2001, a collaboration of Erin McArthur and Mike Gillan. Erin McArthur, a potter, had been interested in clay since high school and Mike was a stone carver and a chef by trade. As its name suggests, Northeastern Folk Art pulls together elements from NL culture and makes vases, as well as small creatures of the sea and land with porcelain and Raku works, which then become magnets, pins, and other ornaments.

Raku is a favourite technique of the two, with its crackly, coppery sheen. Rooted in Ancient Japanese culture, Raku came to North America in the early 1900s. Northeastern Folk Art Raku pieces are made in a multi-step process using two different kilns (one of which they made themselves out of an oil drum), a special reduction chamber, and a copper and cobalt glaze. Fired to a temperature of 950°C, the flames and smoke work their magic on the pieces, creating an incredible finish.

Some of their bestsellers are their Raku whale tails, capelin and starfish – homage to the grandeur and reticence of the sea. Their products are available in gift shops and stores across the province, including the Craft Council of NL, The Newfoundland Weavery, The Rooms, and at Gros Morne. Visitors are welcome at Erin’s studio at the Quidi Vidi Plantation, where she is a craft practitioner and mentor, to see her at work, buy their wares, and have a chat.

On the importance of being part of the local economy, Erin says, “Our work draws from and gives back to the community.”


Photos Courtesy of Graham Blair