Wood firing with Lisa Barry & Matt Mihlik at Homestead Pottery West Guilford, Ontario
I had the great fortune of being invited to fire some of my pots in Lisa & Matt's final wood firing of the season. While the photo of their adorable studio below is one I took while exploring the Haliburton Studio Tour, the firing took place several weeks later after a big dump of snow. Needless to say the firing was a little chilly but keeping the fire stoked, friendly chatter and delicious pot luck food made for a super memorable experience. I love how the pots turned out and I look forward to my next wood fire experience. I absolutely love how involved you must be in this kind of firing and that the more people involved, the more fun it can be. It feels ceremonial to me. My electric kiln only needs me to program the computer and then walk away. This makes life easy and I can get lots more done which is great a lot of the time but wood firing requires your constant attention. Teamwork is the best method for firing a wood kiln that brings community together which is an inspiring idea. I also get inspired by this creative team in particular by their ability to find time to produce beautiful pots while raising a young family. This is not an easy task but one I look forward to taking on in the future. You can stay up to date on their latest work on their facebook page.
A lovely Dorset friend invited me to her house where talented ceramic artist Ann Cummings was hosting a raku workshop. Even though it was on a weekend in the middle of summer (my busiest time in the shop!) .... It was TOTALLY worth the extra effort to attend. This was my first raku experience and most definitely won't be my last. I love the feeling of having no idea how the pots will turn out. I love that this can be a relatively easy set up for experimentation and that it's fun to do with a group of people. The only thing that doesn't appeal to me is the fact that the finished pieces aren't really food safe. I just love making things to eat or drink out of but I'm brain storming ideas of functional things I could make that could be fired this way. I have dreams of building many different styles of kilns but this seems like the most realistic for me to do both due to money and time. Can't wait to my next raku experience.
These guys are my 'neighbours' and I had been wanting to visit them for a long time. They have been in the business of making super functional sweet pots for about as long as I've been alive! The fact that this couple has not only managed to raise a family on their potting but that their adult daughter Jenn also creates in clay is truly inspiring to me. Anyone headed south from Dorset is recommended to check them out.
TOO MANY TO MENTION!
I have chatted with so many potters, visited studios and purchased pots that this list of Canadian inspiration is taking a lot of energy to put together. I want to and will get this list more up to date soon but there are so many other projects on my list that I must stop. Please forgive me for not mentioning everyone here. I have listed below other potters & places within Canada that have inspired me and hope to return to write more about them specifically as well as add to this list..
The Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University - Halifax, Nova Scotia www.nscad.ca
Soda firing with Dan Hill at Hillside Pottery Wilno, Ontario
What an incredible weekend of creativity and learning! I decided to attend a soda firing workshop with a gentle & kind...not to mention talented potter named Dan Hill. He and his artistic partner - Joyce Bulkholderlive in Wilno where they work and display their pieces at Hillside Paintings and Pottery. Driving through Algonquin Park with two friends to get there was a great start to the inspiration. I enjoyed hearing about Dans experiences firing propane kilns as well as eyeing his studio set up. I especially enjoyed the view from his potters wheel looking out into a valley of wetlands with a huge boulder sitting in the middle. Off to one side is their vegetable patch which left me dreaming of summers ahead where more veggie/herb gardens will grow on Chetolah Pottery Studio's property. We were told to bring 12 pots bisque fired to glaze with Dan's glazes and fire them in a large propane downdraft kiln as well as a small converted electric to propane soda updraft kiln. I got the pots back after their firings and am thrilled with their results even though I haven't managed to document them and add their images here. To be coming soon are the final products but check out this whole set up as this was nothing short of an inspirational weekend.
Another one of my 'neighbours' that's been potting for the length of my own lifetime! I had the pleasure of visiting their studio a few summers ago. These guys are true production potters with an ultra inspiring studio set up and kiln. I tend to take more photos of other potters kilns more than anything else as I have dreams of building my own one day. If you're headed north west of Dorset, this studio is definitely not to be missed. Inspiring to me is their ability to raise a family while potting and expand to build their dream kiln. Their love of travel also brought them to spend several winters in St. Lucia and create opportunity to work in clay while there. I'll be needing to make another trip out for a visit as I've unfortunately broken the mug I got on my last trip.
It wasn't long after April moved into her 'old Donaldson schoolhouse' that I had the pleasure of visiting her space. She had turned the spacious garage into her studio and the schoolhouse itself into her home. I bet there's been many improvements and rearranging since I visited and I can't wait to get back to see. I love Aprils whimsical decorations and clean forms. She has been an inspiring potter to me for several reasons but one being that unlike many other potters in our area...she built her business on her own. Although she and I both have supportive friends and family, I feel a kind ship with her in that we both created our business without the support of a second income of a spouse. I love that she is constantly experimenting with new design ideas, the way she displays her pots and that her students only have the most inspired words about the classes she teaches. Taking a class with her is on my wish list.