My earliest recollection of having anything to do with clay was when my mother’s friend, Nancy, took me to a ceramics studio…the kind where you made slipcast pieces in molds. I lived in Europe and was about seven-years-old and I made figurines. Much later, in the United States, when I was in high school, I bonded with clay in earnest. Mr. Carson was a dynamite teacher: talented, motivated, interested and involved. I mainly hand-built pieces, experimented with glazes, structural integrity, textures and applied decoration. I was also involved with painting, drawing, fabric arts, and writing.


After graduation, I took attended two private art schools, painting and drawing at one and throwing clay at the other. I became more involved with the former. Then, I began community college, taking art and English. My clay work was uninspired, though, and I became intensely involved with painting, drawing, and multi-media.

In my early twenties, I left the nest and worked for a living, taking classes in science and textiles on the side. I didn’t touch a piece of clay for about five or six years. Then, while attending university full-time, I was drawn to clay once again. This time, I was under the tutelage of the person who came to influence me the most in this medium, John Takehara. He became my ceramics master.

The school had a well-funded and well-equipped studio: much space, indoors and out, and everything in the way of equipment and materials. I threw and hand-built. Themes I explored were marine biology and astronomy. During my time in Mr. Takehara‘s studio, I also had the good fortune to take part in the department’s annual workshops. Each year, he brought in someone who was tops in the field and, over the years, I took part in workshops with Marilyn Levine, Peter Voulkos, and Ruth Duckworth, Paul Soldner and Rudy Autio. Being around stellar figures in the ceramics world, talking with them, seeing how they worked…it was incredible. At the same time, I became very involved with writing, journalistic and creative, and social action.


Later, I left for graduate school, I immigrated to Canada, and began teaching university…writing. Eventually, I found time to take part in an open studio and did throwing, for the most part. A workplace injury made it unable to continue. I was away from clay for a number of years and have never thrown again.  Along the way, with the hopes of my own studio, I acquired two kilns, which are currently stored. I have yet to learn enough about clay composition or glaze chemistry. I have my range of experience, have read numerous books, but am must move beyond generalist. I require more. While in the U.S., I had worked as a writer and graphic designer, but when I moved to Canada, my creativity took a back seat. I was no longer the doer; I was the teacher. And I was working with words and my mind, not my hands and my heart.

Several years ago, I ‘came back to clay.’ I’d missed it terribly. Taking a tile class at the local arts centre, I flung myself into the medium. A bit after that, I became a member of a group of ceramic artists who meet weekly at the same studio. I’ve continued to make tiles and am interested in the Arts and Crafts style. I make other things, too, and am exploring function, which had never been a goal before. I am happy. Each week, members of my ceramics family meet to work on our various projects. We work at home between times. We are involved with individual processes but a bigger process is taking place, too. We’ve become friends. We experience the energy of working together without artifice.

I decided I wanted to record my history with the medium, my thoughts about it, and create a venue for other artists who will be showcased in articles and interviews. The creative process is high on my agenda. Basically, it’s a site about all things ceramics. There is a resource area, too. I cover my projects, past and current and future ones. By working in clay and writing about it, I hope to gel my relationship with clay, to explore it more deeply. As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”

— Jan

1 Response to About

  1. gary says:

    Wow can you write jan!…. your notes about your busy life are inspiring ! gary

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