Fish on Pottery | Kiefer Floreal | Episode 670

Fish on Pottery | Kiefer Floreal | Episode 670

Kiefer Floreal | Episode 670

Fish on Pottery | Kiefer Floreal | Episode 670

Kiefer Floreal is a 23 year old potter who was born in Kenora, Ontario. Kiefer’s work is inspired by the traditional Japanese art form, Gyotaku. After experimenting, Kiefer found a method that left detailed fish prints displayed on his pots. Kiefer prides himself on printing fish that he catches locally and legally.


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What do your folks think of you making a jump into art?

I’ve got to tell you Paul, I’ve got the most supportive family in the entire world. My mom, I’m going to give her a big shout out, I love her to the moon and back, she has pushed me from day one to do whatever I love to do and whatever is going to make me happy. I say I’ve been hard on myself, not embracing things I’m naturally good at. I wish I was better at math and things like that. My mom always wanted me the embrace what I gravitated towards. I remember telling her at one point when I was kind of at a loss and I didn’t know what to do and she asked, Why don’t you want to be a potter?  And out of a little bit of frustration I just said, Mom, I will never be a potter.  And now I’m sitting here. (laughter) To see how far I have come, you know, your mom knows best sometimes. My dad’s been so supportive, my grandparents have, my uncle out there, my extended family has been so supportive, the community has, I haven’t had anybody put me down. Everybody just builds you up and that’s a situation that I am just so thankful to have.

You are using fish in your work. Have you had anybody give any push back on your fish use?

I have had nobody. I have thought about it before. I got really…I’m a pretty thoughtful guy and I try to be mindful and just one of the things I talk to my grandpa about, if you are using what you can out of the fish and you are doing things ethically, you are doing things legally-by the book, you are doing things in a way that you are not mistreating the animal. That’s part of the thing, I have worked out on the reserve with the Ojibwe tribe and that’s one of the things that runs through the culture is the respect for your surroundings. You hunt, you fish, and you pay respect to these things. I mean one of the things that I was told by somebody was that it’s almost a way of immortalizing that fish and the sacrifice of that. I feel like if you are doing things with respect and if I am doing things ethically and legally I just don’t really see the issue and I haven’t really had anybody really come after me for it. There are probably people out there that would and you know, to each their own, I would love to hear what they have to say. I like hearing different opinions and maybe there is something that I would turn around and think about but from every angle that I have looked at this and talked to people, I feel confident in what I do. And I feel at the end of the night that I am not doing anything out of disrespect or disregard for a life.

How do you show respect for the fish that you catch?

Well, one of the things that I’ve kind of been doing here and there because I work out of the reserve is we put a little tobacco down as an offering for…you know, that’s even if you are harvesting something, you’re cutting down a tree, or you are picking blueberries, or something along those lines, it’s kind of giving back to the earth. Just out of treating any animal with respect whether you are hunting or fishing, you have to have a connection with something you are harvesting, something that is going into you. So treating that with the utmost respect and just taking what you need from the earth, not doing more than that. Obviously staying within regulations, knowing that you are going into something with good intention and a respect for the earth, I think that’s something we all need to maintain and keep in the back of our heads when we do anything.

How do you go about marketing your work now?

You have probably talked to people, Covid put a wrench into everybody’s  machine there, but we started off just with an Instagram really and we got the Facebook going. Julia said, You should probably get a website. So I got a website going and I got some business cards but where I’ve seen the most growth is after a craft sale because you have a lot of people coming through. Especially if you have a lot of local people because if they buy a pot they’re going to come back to you if it’s a well made pot and it’s good work they are going to value it. But I really like that because you can interact with people and we’d go through two boxes of business cards every time. Obviously with Covid we have had to adapt so we did a few give-aways which went really well and just keeping up with the Instagram and Facebook and that’s been doing well enough. Honestly, I can’t really keep up with demand. We’ve been doing really well and I really like the  group people we have following us, it’s awesome to see.

Does your non-fish printed work take longer to move?

Oh yeah, a little bit. I mean that’s exactly it. Honestly, I will make some brown clay pots because I like the way they look, I don’t know, the brown clay pots have been moving very quickly now. But in the past, if I just do it with the blue drip that I’ve got going, those do not sell as fast as the fish. People really like the fish and I think that’ part of…to go back to what I was saying about the two markets. There’s double amount of eyes on pieces that are fish printed. I like the fish printing too. A lot more thought has to go into the pattern of the tail or placement on the pot but everyone once in a while it’s just nice to dip glaze something.

What is your favorite fish to print with?

It depends on the pot. So if I am being honest with you the thing about printing on pots as opposed to printing on paper is the paper forms around the fish. I have to make the fish form around the pot. So if I make a convex shape and I am trying to print a convex fish, it’s hard. You have to roll it on and then you get some double prints. So that’s why my mugs are a little concave so that I can get the fish tail right in there. So I would say honestly, tail wise, and this is going to be controversial, a sucker fish. A sucker fish, they print the best. I went sucker fishing this spring. The details come out beautifully, they are nice and big and they cover everything. They’re perfect. For whole fish I have to go with a Crappie. They have nice big scales and they are flat. Practically it’s so easy.


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Instagram: @kflorealpottery

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