My creative story starts when I was just a toddler playing in my mom’s sewing room, she is a professional seamstress and I was allowed and encouraged to play with scraps of fabric buttons and lace. I made my own patterns making bags and stuffed animals.
As I grew, Elementary and Jr. High led to discovering my drawing and painting abilities my parents had me take some lessons on the side and I was always drawing on napkins in restaurants or doodling in class.
My art teacher in Jr. High had me do charcoals on a large scale taking a nutcracker and stapler enlarging them to the size of 5ft by 5ft. I love that sort of challenge. I loved watercolors and oils too.
When High School came around I was flying between parents living with my dad in Colorado and my mom in Washington state. While living with my dad, my high school experience was in Grand Junction Central High, small school and the art department was an annexed trailer. There was one wheel tucked in the corner and I begged my teacher to let me try. He pulled it out gave me some basic instructions and I was hooked. I completely fell in love with clay. I flew to my moms mid-semester of my junior year where I was placed into a high school with a state of the art classroom. 7 wheels, two kilns, and a teacher who knew her stuff.
I remember being so excited to get to art class that I cleared all my requirements so that I could just spend the end of my senior year in the ceramics room. I had 5 classes back to back. The teacher did demonstrations every day before class and I would sit on the edge of my seat just dying to do what she did. She was such a good teacher, she would repeatedly cut my cylinders in half teaching me what to look for in a good pot.
My parents knew that when spring break came around I would not be able to live without at least touching clay. They went to the principal and asked if they would allow us to take a wheel home over the break. They did and so we cleared out the dining room laid down a large sheet of plastic and I was allowed to work to my heart’s content.
The high school would also pack me along with the wheel and take me to other schools to do demonstrations and excite others over clay.
When the year closed out I received a senior award for my pottery, but I had chose not to go to college as I had agreed to marry my high school sweetheart. He had Joined the Air Force which meant I would be living all over the world.
We moved to England for three years and I became a mom to a little girl and then on to Las Vegas for three years where I had two boys. My life had become very busy. On to Montana for three~and then to Omaha.
Omaha was where I picked up my passion again, The Air Force base had a wonderful Arts and crafts center with several wheels some kilns and some tools. I was in heaven. I was delighted when they asked if I would like to teach the kids! Of course!
I love to garage sale and one fabulous Saturday I was out with my husband going through base housing when we stopped at one I hopped out and completely missed the jewel, I got back in and he asked me how much the potters wheel was!? I almost snapped my neck turning back around, hopped out of the van and ran over to the man to ask how much? This was a Brent B Potters wheel in great condition, the same I had learned on in school, he said 50.$ I couldn’t say sold fast enough. I know at the time we probably couldn’t afford that but what a steal!!!
I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. I then started throwing pots in the basement, in the laundry room, in the garage or if I couldn’t find any where else a closet! Didn’t matter as long as it held me and my wheel.
We moved to Germany for three years and I opted to leave the wheel in storage for that one, the electric current is different over there and I was told that the transformer would ruin it. So I went knowing I would be back in three years.
We got orders back to Omaha! Yay! I was back in business and back at the arts and crafts center and because my kids were old enough to go to school I had some real time to play. It was hard to have to load up everything and take it to be fired and my hands were really tied with glazes, with three kids living in government housing on a Sgt.’s pay check I really had to be careful.
We were now headed back to England for another three years and this time it was my plan to find other potters and my wheel was coming with! We lived in this adorable little cottage out in the middle of manors and sheep fields, the horse back riders rode in front of our cottage every morning I would wave to them from my kitchen window. I potted in my garage at that point there really was nowhere else to be so when it was nice out I could open the door and the view was amazing.
I found some potters in a little village called Wood Newton, the teacher is a man named Rob Bibby. The studio was a gutted out 14th century church with the wheels toward the front a large work area in the back and the upstairs made a lovely art gallery. It was amazingly quaint with everyone working on their things and about half way through someone would ask if we were ready for a cup of tea and with that they would go put on the kettle. Story book stuff…
As our time ended there we sadly left and the Air Force directed us back to Offut AFB Omaha Ne. once again.
My husband and I divorced and I was left to trying to make ends meet because I had been a mom and wife for 20 some years I had no experience in the work world. I found a Job at Petsmart as a dog bather, graduated to groomer and then manager. But I had to take on another job after my divorce as he died of cancer leaving me with no pension or alimony. So I did the unthinkable and sold my wheel with whatever tools I had acquired and anything else that brought money. I found another job working at a grocery store as a cashier bringing me to 12 to 15 hours a day and virtually no time off.
Then I met my present husband through friends at petsmart and after some time of dating he and I were married. He had just purchased a brand new home with a completely unfinished basement. One day I was down there and thought about how much room there was and what a wonderful place it would be for a wheel. So, I asked him if I could get a wheel and make a little studio downstairs, he agreed but more than that he asked if I would like to teach kids again, I thought that would be great and so I then had a carpenter a plumber and electrician on the way! I ordered a kiln and had a wheel…wow!
Creating the studio was so much fun. I painted the walls to look like brick and did murals on the walls. I made a bird aviary out of the window well, so much more creative to look at then weeds and frogs who had lunged to their death. I put paint on my feet all different colors and walked all over the basement floor! Color and permission to be messy!!
I also began jurying for shows and began taking my pots public. We set up a little art gallery in the spare bedroom upstairs. We had parties and showings, it really was so much fun. I had about 5 students and could go down and throw a pot whenever I wanted to.
So one day I was in our little town of Elkhorn having lunch with my girlfriends and while we were talking I looked across the street and saw in the window of the little shop the words, “Pottery Lessons”. I had looked everywhere and could not find anyone outside of way down in the Old Market so I decided to investigate,
We finished our lunch and walked to the shop, it was empty. I knew it! Potters just seem to be a rarity around here. I didn’t think anything of it and went into Little Scandinavia just next door. While I was looking around my friends came in and said it would be perfect for me. I laughed and said that wouldn’t happen, I couldn’t even dream that big. I was content tucked in my basement at home. I started to think that if I were in a place where people could just walk in I would gain students and maybe not have to go to so many art shows as they are so much work.
We all went to dinner that night and presented the idea to my husband. He reacted exactly as I thought with the financial aspect of it, right now we had no overhead and didn’t have to worry about the rent and things but he said we should go look. Fine but I didn’t want to get my hopes up (they already were) and we went to find out when we could go look. We called, made an apt. and were on our way. The building was so charming it is over 100 years old and used to have the ballroom upstairs, all exposed brick and original floor. As we walked back into what was the kitchen when it was a bakery we found a canvas covered table two kiln hook ups a huge double sink canvas covered counters and shelving everywhere.
I was in awe….this sort of thing just does not happen, you find a space ready for a potter to just move in. So my husband asked if he could have a week to think about it as it was a huge hot spot for retailers. He talked to everyone about it and found out that Olde Towne Elkhorn is an up and coming place lots of new and exciting things getting ready to take off. He also called his sisters and talked to them about it, all the while talking it down to me. Even as we were driving there the second time he was telling me how I would have to be beholding to it. I found myself upset and thinking why are we even going back to look?
We walked in for the second time and I kept thinking what an opportunity would be lost if we did do it. I was sure he was going to say no when I heard his say we would take it. I was dumb founded, elated and terrified all at once. I was going to be a shop keeper!!!
We began moving things in and getting set up. I love the atmosphere and the space it really is amazing. I found that the 2000 sq. ft. swallowed me up, I had space every where. I had only 2 wheels and one large kiln. I was acquiring tools all the time. Every time I went to a thrift store or a garage sale or found a sale on line I was gathering.
People were beginning to find me and I began adding students, soon there were to many for the one table I had in the back and I needed another, the wheels were beginning to fill too. I was running out of shelf space. I am always amazed at the way things presented themselves. One of my students is a carpenter came in and measured the one I had and boom I had another just like it, got canvas and my students helped me cover it.
Another wheel was purchased and free wood for shelves happened! More students and a website, an awning with my name on it and just recently another kiln, I traded my small kiln for a wheel, I now have 5 wheels and what a joy it on class times when they are all being used at once.
The word is really getting out, this December I sold 16 gift certificates for classes taking me to 61 students. The people that come in for studio time have formed friendships, the tea and coffee are always on;, I have free wifi and have created a living area where you can sit in front of an 1880 parlor stove and just be inspired. I have heard the word therapeutic over and over, it is a safe place where you can come in and just be.