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Adding the Finishing Flourish: The Importance of Small Details in Design for an Experience.

Updated: Feb 22

I hosted my second Elemental Claycation this past weekend and my soul is soooo full. It was a "meet your new best friends" claycation as they didn't know each other. When I had this idea of an immersive pottery retreat a year and a half ago, I wanted to fill a void that I was feeling existed. I would have many people ask if I teach pottery wheel throwing classes. I used to prior to COVID-19 have 8 week sessions once a week before Christmas and after Christmas, but people had to drive weekly and that limited who could take the classes. Back up many many many years ago, when my parents turned my Amma's house into a B & B and Guest House (I live in that house today) I so loved helping when I could host people. This house is meant to host. I have travelled across Canada and have experienced incredible moments in this country curated by so many tourist operators. All the parts came together into Elemental Claycation.

Elemental Claycation
"Meet your new best friends" Elemental Claycation left their mark!

When designing Elemental Claycation I had set some "rules" and as I navigated those rules, even more tiny touches began to immerse. I wanted anyone that worked on the attic renovation to be local to Wynyard or have ties to Wynyard. I wanted all the pieces that went into the attic to be meaningful, tied to the history of the house, tied to my family, and tied to Saskatchewan and if need be Canada. If I could support female owned small businesses I would. I wanted that when people came to the Elemental Claycation that it was different. I am not one of those people that do things just because they have always been done that way.

When it came to curating the space I didn't want it to be like a hotel room, with just a bed, bedding, lamp, and a coffee maker. I wanted the guest experience to unfold as you connected with the space and the history of the space. I wanted to embrace the previous installations I did in various schools to help me create the ultimate "attic" space for guests to be. I will share a few touches that will help you understand. On the north side of the space, we created a bathroom, and fireplace feature wall. On the sides of the bathroom that is the walls where the beds are against there is old barn wood that we acquired from my great great uncle's homestead that still had an original farm structure. That barn wood is the exact same type of wood that is on the side of my honour system highway store that we took off a building in the yard. My great great uncle's homestead is right beside the homestead of my great Afi (grandpa). This is the family connection. The fireplace I got from SK Fireplace Warehouse whose owner is originally from Foam Lake, but used to work with my cousin who my dad told me I should ask for advice for the fireplace that I had already researched. Small world. The sink in the bathroom is one that Brad (husband) found in his garage sale/thrifting/antique antics and had been sitting in the attic for ten years. The storage in the bathroom up there we reused from my daughters bedroom closet. The front of the fireplace, I designed to match the Elemental Claycation theme of the elements of Water (blue tiles); Earth (raw clay); Air (white tile); Fire (black rocks) I made all the tiles myself and some of the rocks I was gifted from a potter relative in Iceland.

The first Claycation and the second Claycation guests added some rocks to the fireplace as I wanted them to leave a permanent touch in the space since they were the first. The first group of people that knew each other placed some rocks and the first group of "meet your new best friends" are pointing to the rocks they placed. Inside the bathroom there is a bulletin board that each claycation guest gets to write a message of their experience just like in my highway store.

I aim for the space and my claycation to give to the guests something they can not get anywhere else. I want them to feel a connection to each other, to the attic space, to the house, to the studio, to the history of this house and land and then eventually the pieces they create will remind them off their weekend away. Check out my page on my website to book your claycation whether with your friends or come meet your new friends and experience all the various details.

Creating an incredible pottery experience and creating pottery that I sell online and in my highway store is truly about the small details.

Marea Olafson

Freba Pottery


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