Debbie Gilmer of Gilmer Clayworks

 Ottawa, Ontario

In our new series, Behind The Wheel, learn about what inspires our potters, the challenges they've faced, and their favourite pieces.

How did you get started with pottery?

I started as a young mother of 3 (soon to be 4) with a 2 hr "sanity class" from a local potter over 30 years ago. I quickly started acquiring my own equipment, joined a local guild and honed my throwing skills. I live in a rural area so lots of improvising and self-reliance was required.

What are some of your inspirations?

Celtic art, primitive symbols and nature's own geometric patterns.

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced with selling your pottery?

Pricing my pottery in a way that makes it accessible for my local community but still pays me a fair wage for my labour.

What advice would you give to a new potter? 

Keep in touch with what excites you about the various steps in the pottery process and focus on exploring those aspects to the max!

What do you miss the most about in person markets?

The chance to  meet up with other artisans and "talk shop"

Were you selling online before COVID?  

This is the 3rd time I have tried online sales and this time I would say it has been a success. I was not convinced that customers wanted to buy pottery without fondling it first but pandemic isolation has pushed people to try.

What is your favourite piece to make?

The natural rhythm of my work is to design a series of pieces every year or two so I would say the process of designing my next series is what keeps it fresh for me. A Celtic series mug is different from a Simplicity mug is different from a Facet series mug is different from a Farmhouse mug is different from a Hearth & Home mug is different from a Minimalist mug....well you get the idea.

What is your favourite piece in your own pottery collection that was made by another potter?

 A tiny mug which I broke last year - ugh!

Why did you decide to join The Northern Kiln?

I have operated my own online sales site for the last year but most sales are within 45 km of my studio. I decided to join TNK to put my pottery out to a broader audience.

March 09, 2021