When Susanne James is not busy selling cottages in the Haliburton Highlands she is busily at work in her pottery studio creating a variety of functional stoneware items including the incredible dragonfly mugs that are the prize in May 2012′s draw for those who sign up for the www.MadeInHaliburton.ca newsletter or “Like us” on Facebook. Susanne has a passion for dragonflies and sees them as the “good bugs”, ones that are welcome especially when those nasty biting bugs appear. After all the dragonfly consumes these nastier creatures and thus, the more the merrier. All of her functional items for the home are dishwaher, micro wave and food safe. Each item is handmade and one-of-a-kind. Thus, don’t expect these two dragonfly mugs to be exact replicas of one another as they were not made from a mold. Most of her pieces are wheel thrown but she has a few square or rectangulare pieces that she hand builds. For the platter shown on the left she brings twigs from the forest into the studio and uses them to duplicate mother nature’s designs precisely.
In addition to functional items for the household Susanne likes to knit and thus, has created an innovative series of knitting related pottery items. The best known of these items is her knitting yarn bowl. Great way to keep your yarn clean and close by. Her other items include mugs with a cable knit pattern on the side and needle and spindle holders.
Susanne took her first pottery course at the Haliburton School of the Arts 20 or more years ago and has taken many additional courses since. While she has dabbled in other artistic media she is most taken with pottery. She loves the texture of the red clay she works with and the aroma of cocoa bean shells that it gives off as she works in the studio that has been created for her in her home. Her firing is done in an electric kiln.
Debbie and Grahame Wales moved to the Haliburton Highlands in 1976. They built a log home and studio overlooking LIttle Boshkung Lake. In their early years in the Highlands pottery was a hobby for them. In 1990 they constructed a large outdoor reduction-fired kiln and their delightful hobby became a full time business adventure. Grahame worked on the pottery business whenever the demands of being a stay-at-home dad would allow. Debbie continued working in the education system and contributing to the business on weekend and in the summer until she joined the business full-time in 2003. It became very apparent that their quaint little log studio and workshop needed more space. And so an addition was added to expand the work area and create a lovely new gallery.
The Wales make great studio partners in part because they have differing interests in terms of the types of pottery they do. Grahame loves to work at the wheel and produce functional pottery. He is very adept at throwing large quantities of clay while regaling any studio visitors with humorous anecdotes. He has become known locally as “the Hairy Potter”. Debbie, on the other hand, has branched out to create thrown and altered work, square and functional pieces and one-of-a-kind sculpted wall hangings that depict the beauty of the Haliburton Highlands. Their daughter Jenn as recently begun to follow in their footsteps and produce her own unique clay designs in the form of jewellery and mosaic wall plaques.
Earth and Fire Pottery has been a part of the Haliburton Highlands Studio Tour since 1992, just a few years after its inception. They have seen the tour develop and grow and have played an active part in its development. This year is the 25th anniversary of the Studio Tour and a special celebration is planned. Everyone is invited to the Opening of the Exhibition titled “Transitions”, which is an exhibition of the art of current and past Haliburton Highlands Studio Tour Artists. The opening reception takes place on Saturday May 5th from 2-4 pm. Come out and celebrate the work of these fine artists. For a further schedule of the activities that will occur during the show please visit the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre Website.
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