My first encounter with clay and pottery was at Zion Heights Junior High school in Toronto when I was in grade 7 (I'm old so this is going back to the late 1970's!). I took an after school class that was mostly hand building but we also got to have a go on a stand up potter's wheel. Nothing fancy, no finishing to the pot or trimming but we did get to throw and then glaze. I still have one of my first pots that I made that year way back when.
I have been actively working in clay since 1995 after taking a beginners pottery class with the London Potters Guild (LPG) and then becoming an active member of the LPG. In the summer of 2001, I set up a 19th century pottery at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario and expanded the project each year until 2006.
What started as a hobby has quickly become a business and expanded to include historically researched handmade reproduction pottery, private lessons, teaching for the LPG and single day workshops, classes and parties offered to schools, senior centres, outside groups (like scouts or guides) and the general public.
In the summer of 2008 I returned to the hobby of living history after nearly a decade away from it. Specifically my children and I are re-enacting the War of 1812 although sometimes going to different period re-enactment events. After having a 19th century pottery at Fanshawe Village I have now incorporated my pottery into the hobby of living history and sell my pots at events as a merchant or sutler.
The summer I graduated from University (1987) I began re-enacting the war of 1812 with a friend I met at school. By the end of the next summer I owned my own tent, cooking irons and pots, several period dresses or outfits and had been to many 1812 historic sites throughout Southwestern Ontario where the living history events are held. I loved spending my summer weekends dressed up and living as our early Canadian settlers had done so many years ago. When my daughter was born she became a part of my re-enacting and wore period clothing and played with period appropriate toys. However as she grew up it became more difficult for me to enjoy the events as I once had. Then I had a son and ended up giving up the hobby of 1812 living history - I thought for good!
In 2001 after I had become proficient at pottery making I met someone from our local pioneer village who said the village was looking to include local artisans as part of everyday village life. I set up an historic pottery studio and volunteered for four seasons each summer as the village potter. I dressed in period clothing, used my period manual kick wheel to create historically accurate pots and incorporated research about the history of pottery in the London area to educate the public. Both of my children came to the village with me and acted as interpreters in the various houses and buildings (my son was only 2 when we started so he came along during my third and fourth seasons). After leaving the Pioneer Village I believed my days of re-enacting were over. My son had different ideas.... a lover of all things history related since he was very young, when he was about 8 or 9 he asked if we could go back and work again at the village. As I had not left there on very good terms I did not want to go back so we went to a local 1812 event that spring and I ran into people I had not seen in years. Then and there I decided that if we were going to get back into the hobby than it would pay for itself, and so, I became a sutler.