Porcelain Art Jolie Wells

Montana China Painting Art Association president Jolie Wells holds the grand champion porcelain art entry in this year’s Ravalli County Fair. The annual meeting of the artists is Friday and Saturday with demonstrations of techniques. The public is invited.

The Montana China Painting Art Association is holding their annual meeting with demonstrations open to the public in Hamilton, Sept. 13 and 14.

President Jolie Wells said china painting is a dying art, at least in the United States. As superintendent of the Porcelain Art Department she noticed the number of porcelain art entries in the Ravalli County Fair were down.

“A lot of my members are getting older and there are fewer porcelain artists in the whole United States,” Wells said. “Not elsewhere just in the U.S. The young people aren’t interested it in because they are doing graphic arts on their computers which gives instant gratification. This you have to have the kiln, paints and it’s a process.”

Commitment and follow through are two required elements to porcelain artistry. The small convention is an inexpensive and convenient opportunity to explore the genre. The public is welcome. The conference room of the Bitterroot River Inn is the host site with exciting demonstrations both days. Each demonstration will cost $1.50 and take about 45-minutes.

On Friday, the convention starts with meetings in the morning, then the show is open 1–4:30 p.m.

Demonstrations begin at 1 p.m. with longtime teacher and local porcelain artist Joanna Barker demonstrating painting Bitter Roots and Huckleberries; at 2 p.m. Judie Stauter will demonstrate handmade porcelain roses; and at 3 p.m. Patsy Tompkins will demonstrate "For-Get-Me Nots – My Way."

On Saturday, the show is open 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. with demonstrations at 10 a.m. when Norma Dickerson will demonstrate penwork (drawing on porcelain with pen and ink) and 11 a.m. with Marianne Bibbey demonstrating candy canes and peppermint candies. At 1 p.m. Marion Hunch will demonstrate leatherwork and attendees are asked to bring a paint brush.

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“Everyone is welcome to come,” Wells said. “You don’t need a membership to participate in the demonstrations. We’ll also have a ‘show and tell’ room with items from people in the various clubs to show what they have been doing.”

The conference includes painters from across Montana and a couple of artists are coming from Canada. There are vendor booths, raffles and drawings.

Wells said people should porcelain paint because it is unique.

“The process alone of painting a layer, firing it, painting another layer, and firing it until you get your end results are very unique and very cool,” she said. “It takes commitment. You don’t just sit down once, paint, and you’re done.”

Access to a kiln is essential.

“It is not an inexpensive hobby to get into but it is amazing the things you can do,” Wells said. “You don’t have to be an artist. I think you can learn. A lot of people say, ‘I don’t know how to draw a stick figure.’ Well, just come in and give this a try. The nice thing is if you don’t like your results before you fire, you can just wipe it off and start again.”

The Montana China Painting Art Association annual meeting and demonstrations will take place Sept. 13 and 14, at 139 Bitterroot Plaza Drive, in Hamilton.