Queen has ceramic flowers

April 25, 2016
As I write this, The Queen or Queen Elizabeth II (for anyone who might be living on another planet and does not know that The Queen refers to Queen Elizabeth II) has been in the news lately because she turned 90 years old.

Good time to show you this related (in a broad sort of way) article:

Gravelbourg Gazette

November 30, 1982

Queen has ceramic flowers

Tanya Lester

You never know where you might find Linda Olafson’s hand modelled clay and porcelain flowers.

Queen Elizabeth II has one of Mrs. Olafson’s pieces. Her Majesty was presented with the artwork when she visited Moose Jaw in 1978.

A real estate company in Kimberly, British Columbia gave each of their new home owners one of Mrs. Olafson’s hand modelled clay dogwood flowers, to represent the B.C. floral emblem.

At this year’s Lassie Curling Championship in Regina, every contestant found a Prairie lily, made by Mrs. Olafson, at each dinner place setting during the banquet.

“The emblem flowers are the ones that people relate to and want,” Mrs. Olafson said. And people certainly do want them. With Christmas approaching, Mrs. Olafson has about 60 orders to fill.

She has difficulty keeping up with the demand for her hand modelled flowers. Mrs. Olafson could never open a shop to sell her flowers because they are sold as quickly or more quickly than she can make them. Sometimes when she sells her flowers at an art show, they are all sold before she arrives at the sale in the morning.

Mrs. Olafson said her mother used to make flowers out of ribbons. She, herself, was always interested in making flowers and, as a child she used to make paper flowers.

Mrs. Olafson said her mother used to make flowers out of ribbons. She,herself, was always interested in making flowers and, as a child she used to make paper flowers.

Mrs. Olafson taught herself to make the flowers by reading library books on the art in Moose Jaw and Regina. Soon she was teaching others how to make the flowers. Mrs. Olafson taught Edna Stark and Emma Radfelder, local residents who have won awards for their crafts, to make the hand modelled flowers out of clay and porcelain. Seven women who took classes with Mrs. Olafson now own their own kilns which are used to make the flowers.

On one occasion, two Saskatchewan women parked their camper trailer in Mrs. Olafson’s backyard for a week while they took a course from her. Mrs. Olafson said they were up until 11:00 or 12:00 pm each night making flowers.

Mrs. Olafson also taught a seminar for University of Regina fine arts students. “I never went to university before but the first time I went, I went to teach,” Mrs. Olafson laughed.

After Mrs. Olafson learned how to make the flowers, she decided to make a few as hostess gifts because she and her husband were planning a trip to BC. “Before I got them out of the house, I had orders,” she said.

The flower making process starts with clay that Mrs. Olafson mixes and then rolls with a rolling pin or sometimes with her hands. A pattern cutter or a needle is used to cut designs which Mrs. Olafson molds into the flower petals. “It seems like your fingers can’t go fast enough,” she said referring to the number of orders she has to fill.

The center of each flower is made from clay which is pushed through a strainer and tapped onto the center of the already modelled petals. The grey flower is left to dry.

After the flower is dry, it is glazed with a clear glaze made of crushed glass. It is handpainted and with an airbrush. The flower is fired or baked in a kiln for about 18 hours or longer depending on the size of the load.

In the case of a porcelain rose, which Mrs. Olafson was making, the pertals are cut out of cotton, coated with porcelain, and then fried in the kiln. The heat of the kiln burns out the cotton and the porcelain flower is translucent or almost ‘see through’ when it is taken out of the kiln.

Mrs. Olafson said if she was younfer she would consider the possibility of establishing a mass production flower making business. One employee could model the clay, another could paint, and another could tend to the kiln.

It is very likely that such a business would be highly successful for , although the demand is high, Mrs. Olafson has never seen hand modelled clay ad porcelain flowers of the same type where she has travelled to the States or BC.

But, as things stand, Mrs. Olafson is now keeping busy as she prepares Christmas gifts for her customers in her basement workshop. Her reward for her work is not only monetary but has included winning first prize at a Plate Collectors’ Meeting.


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