Jaume Ruldua

Gifts from Spain help Alberni hospice

Jaume Ruldua had a surprise for Potluck: he offered to make 40 rectangular plates for free and they recently arrived in Alberni.

Christmas came early for Pot Luck Ceramics this year.

Last year, the Alberni Valley business, which sells unique ceramic cookware as a fundraiser for the Ty Watson House Hospice, had a partial shipment stolen from its pallets. Owner Helma Swinkels imports the cookware from Spain.

In October, two pallets with pottery for Pot Luck Ceramics were transported to a warehouse in Barcelona, Spain to await loading onto a cargo ship headed for Vancouver Island. One of the pallets contained four boxes with a gift from Jaume Ruldua, the potter that makes the West Coast series exclusively for Port Alberni.

In October last year four boxes with Pot Luck’s most popular rectangular plates with bear tracks and salmon were stolen from the pallets while on their way to Vancouver.  “The shipment was insured, but the deductible was half of the value and Pot Luck Ceramics had to accept the loss,” Swinkels said.

This year Ruldua had a surprise for Potluck: he offered to make 40 rectangular plates for free and they recently arrived in Port Alberni.

In April Swinkels, Val Startup, Deb Pearson and Rick Schievink visited the ceramic factories in Spain to connect with the owners and to negotiate a new order for the end of the year. Ruldua, who had been informed about the loss of the West Coast rectangular plates, offered to replace them for free. He said he admired  the purpose of the business: raising funds for charitable services that improve quality of life in the community, especially the support of end of life care in Ty Watson House.

“He (Ruldua) didn’t hesitate to offer to make the plates again, but now for free,” Swinkels said. “This is his contribution to our purpose.”

Ruldua also designed a new art series dubbed “Ultimate Fish”, specially made to promote Port Alberni’s Ultimate Fishing Town title.

Ruldua and his wife Carmen live and work in Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean Coast. “They are very proud that Port Alberni was named after a Catalonian, Pedro de Alberni, a captain of the free company of volunteers of Catalonia, who lived and served on Vancouver Island in 1790,” Swinkels said.

She thought it would be a great fit to import ceramics from Catalonia, not only because of the high terracotta quality, but also because the business is completely run by volunteers, she explained.

“Pedro de Alberni after all was a volunteer himself, and he was born in the area of the famous cook and dinnerware, where Catalonians were already producing these ceramics for hundreds of years.

“Selling Catalonian terracotta pottery made of the soil Pedro de Alberni was born on seemed a perfect fit for the Port Alberni fundraising co-op that owns and operates Pot Luck Ceramics.”

By the end of November the two pallets had arrived from Catalonia with the free plates as well as new product.

Pot Luck Ceramics is open this Saturday, Dec. 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the barn at 4011 Cowley Rd. For more information, please go online to potluckceramics.ca.

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