As with most everything in my life, I came to pottery in a round about way. During school, I was convinced I was going to be a fine artist, and make scads of money. Reality hit after I was out of school and I thought I'd give my hand at being a graphic artist instead. Those jobs weren't being offered to me, in spite of sending out hundreds of resumes. I eventually ended up working for a company that supplied art and drafting supplies to industry. I stayed with that company for 10 years, working my way up from inside to outside sales and eventually into management and in the process learned how to run a business. Their print shop division taught me about print and graphic design from a print perspective. This company went bankrupt (through no fault of my own!) and I had several great clients who told me they'd support me if I went out on my own. So with a bit of fear, I set up my own company in 1987 to broker printing and offer graphic design. I've retired from that business this spring, but continue to do the odd little thing for friends.
But my inner artist wanted to come out and play. I wanted to make art for my own sake, not just what my clients asked me to do. I dabbled at fine art - acrylic, pen and ink, pencil drawings. I enjoyed the process but it didn't really do it for me. It wasn't enough.
Meanwhile, my husband and I had been actively acquiring pottery and glass art over the years by going on studio tours, visiting galleries and going to art festivals. For years I had admired the thrown pottery birdbaths I had seen at a particular potter's studio in the Muskokas on the studio tour. I had taken a semester of pottery in high school and though I didn't remember too much about the process, I did remember it as not being all that difficult. So I said, as one often does, "I could do that!". Year after year I would pine for those birdbaths. Finally in 1998 I finally decided I WOULD make that and took up pottery. I took several courses at the Burlington Art Centre (now the Art Gallery of Burlington) and eventually did make that birdbath. After factoring in classes, materials and tools, it cost many times more than ones that I had seen, but by then I was completely hooked on pottery, so it was a good investment.
I make a wide range of whimsical and colourful items for the garden – tree bling (jewellery for trees), dragon tails, butterfly spas, totems, birdbaths, bird feeders, bird houses, mushrooms, flowers, critters like frogs, toads, ladybugs, birds and flying fish, etc. I also makes a variety of unique vases, from ikebana-style vases with pin frogs, to flower pods, to my signature flower pillows, allowing people to bring the best parts of their gardens indoors to enjoy.
In 2011, I started felting after taking a felting workshop with Sue Firkser in Dundas and falling in love with the feel of the wools and silks she uses in her fibre art. Wet and needle felted works have become another form of expression for me to explore and I enjoy the the immediacy of the artform compared with pottery.
As I look back on my life I realize that it has been a puzzle made up of many converging parts, both curved and straight and intuitively assembled like one of my tree bling necklaces. Hard work, happenstance, personal vision, teaching, good luck and the love and support of my husband and as well as my friends have created the artist I am today.
Over the years, I have gained great joy and fulfillment from making pottery. I love the process - the feel of the smooth cool clay in my hands as I mold it into a shape is very therapeutic. But I also love how my work connects me with people. I enjoy meeting and talking to customers at my sales, and I like having them see the studio and garden that inspires my work. When they take one of my pieces home, I feel privileged to have become a little part of their daily life.
I give pottery and felting workshops and private lessons in my studio and currently teach felting classes for adults at the Brant Hills Community Centre through the City of Burlington. I really enjoy sharing my ideas and techniques with others.
My work is in private collections in Canada, US and Europe. I sell my work from my studio, as well as at the Art Gallery of Burlington's spring and fall Guild sales, at the Potters’ Guild of Hamilton and Region spring and fall sales in Dundas. On the first weekend of June each year, I hold a Garden Show and Sale in my own garden with invited guest artists, where people can see my art in its “natural setting”, and have a Fall Open House at my studio in late October, for those who want to get a head start on Christmas shopping, or just to visit and see what I’ve been up to lately. Check out my upcoming events.