Artist For A Day: Skiing & Slinging Pottery at Sundance

By Local Lexi Jul 22, 2020
Think Sundance Mountain Resort is just for skiers and snowboarders? Think again! This mountain is packed with art classes, activities, and amazing eateries.
Artist For A Day: Skiing & Slinging Pottery at Sundance

Envision the sounds of a perfect winter day...
The lively hiss of a small creek, snow softly billowing around boot tops, whoops of delight emanating from the chairlift, the resounding slap of wet clay, the whirr of a pottery wheel, laughter, and the clink of handblown glassware. If you’re confused, just know that these are the common soundscapes of Sundance Mountain Resort!

Tucked beneath the looming monolith of Mount Timpanogos, Sundance Mountain Resort was purchased from the Stewart family by movie legend Robert Redford in 1969. His mission was to create a retreat for artists and mountain lovers to connect with the land and rejuvenate their spirits. A look at Sundance’s offerings reveals a wealth of year-round activities, lessons, and events to enrich and excite all guests, even those who don’t ski or snowboard. What I like best about Sundance is the aura of creativity, the intimacy, and the celebration of culture that surrounds you the moment you arrive.

After a peep at the plethora of activities available at Sundance, my friend and photographer, Re Wikstrom, and I were inspired to make some magic. Setting our sights on the Sundance Art Studio, we had a difficult time choosing between a jewelry making class, painting and printmaking, or journal craft, but we ultimately decided to enroll in a pottery class. More on activities within the art studio here.

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Photo Credit: Re Wikstrom

I arose early on the appointed day of our class to one of Ski Utah’s Powder Alert emails. My friend and trusty forecaster, Evan Thayer, had correctly predicted a powder storm of 8” or more for Utah resorts. Re and I slowly navigated the snow-covered roads of Provo Canyon, pausing for a moment to admire the frozen shards and delicate wisps of Bridal Veil falls before making the turn up to Sundance. 

We would begin our day in the Sundance Art Studio with a pottery class from Tim Rencher who has over 20 years of experience teaching at Sundance; we were in good hands. Tim showed us around the studio and after donning heavy leather aprons, he provided us with a demo at the wheel. Re and I had both never attempted throwing clay before, but Tim quickly eliminated our doubts and we confronted our whirling wheels. 

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Photo Credit: Re Wikstrom

Melding the unpredictable wet clay resulted in peals of laughter as we attempted to manage the evolving lumps on our wheels. Tim guided us as we wrangled our heaving clay and despite our amateur attempts (and with Tim’s help) we both managed to produce respectable pieces. I was creating a coffee mug and Re was throwing a bowl.

Tim helped us shape and trim the clay and checked that our bases were thick enough to survive firing in the kiln. He then led us over to an expansive rack of colors for glazing. Students can opt to paint their clay with one or many colors of glaze. Using the backdrop of Sundance as inspiration, I scratched mountains and ski tracks into my mug before applying several layers and colors of glaze. Re mixed up a few shades of blue and applied them while spinning her bowl on the wheel for a neat effect.

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Photo Credit: Re Wikstrom

As we finished up our projects in the art studio, Tim promised to take good care of our creations until it was time to fire them. Patrons can either swing back in a couple weeks to pick up their fired pieces or Sundance can mail them directly to you. Having worked up an appetite, Re and I stopped by for some fresh sandwiches in the Sundance Deli before catching Ray’s Lift.

Being a weekday, the crowds were sparse in the afternoon and we easily located fresh tracks in Bishop’s Bowl and off the ridgelines beneath the Flathead Chairlift. The moody weather provided stunning views down Provo Canyon to the west and out over Deer Creek Reservoir to the northeast. The liftie recognized us after each lap, offering stoke and jokes as we continued our powder hunt. As the clouds dropped lower and the light grew dim, Re and I made our way down the mountain, heeding the call of the cozy Owl Bar.

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Photo Credit: Re Wikstrom

Once inside, we ordered craft cocktails and some hearty snacks to warm up. We clinked our glasses to celebrate our successful day and the delightful atmosphere of the Owl Bar. (Many of the glasses used at Sundance are blown onsite using recycled glass from the guest rooms and restaurants!) Stepping into the Owl Bar is akin to traveling back in time and the surroundings invite guests to slow down and appreciate the company while savoring flavorful food and drinks.

It was dark when Re and I swung outside through the Owl Bar’s wooden shutters. We were surprised to find thronging crowds and a bustle of activity in the parking lot. Friday night welcomes many local night skiers and we basked for a moment in the air of excitement and family-friendly fun. It can be uncommon nowadays to find ski areas with a truly local vibe. We felt that here at Sundance as the patrons donned ski gear in the dusk, laughing and joking. In a couple weeks, we’d see our handcrafted clay after its trip through the kiln, a wonderful memento of our special day at Sundance.   

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Thanks to Tim for the photo! 

Sundance can be enjoyed in every season thanks to its amenities and diversions. Try fly fishing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, or one of the classes in their cozy art studio. If you have a family with a wide array of interests, Sundance serves up the ideal backdrop to keep everyone entertained and rediscovering their connection to Nature.

To learn more about Sundance’s neat environmental initiatives
-- Click Here