d.t. has been making ceramics in Toronto for 40 years. She has seen pottery shops, studios, and drop-ins open and close. Over the years she has also seen her own practice evolve. She studied under tutors at George Brown, Central Tech, and at private studios, and has herself taught pottery at Sistering’s Inspirations Studio and at the 416 drop-in – experiences that also contributed to her learning. But above all, her craft has been honed through her own independent practice of working with clay and her love of the medium. Through time, this passion has developed into a source of support as well.
d.t. is a pragmatic entrepreneur. She scouts local shops to understand the market and to stay competitive. By selling on the sidewalk on Queen Street West, she keeps overhead low and margins high. Though she knows she can sell teapots for $100, her $20-$30 bowls secure more reliable sales. “And if something sells,” she says, “make it again!” But for d.t., it’s not just about the money. “I don’t want to make a lot of money,” she says. “I want to do my work and get paid for it. But for me, it’s also preserving the art form. It’s about maintaining it – a craft that is learned from person to person.” Though independent, d.t.’s craft has kept her connected to a community of women who share skills, resources, and a love of making.
d.t. believes pottery is especially important in a world that is increasingly mass-produced. She laments the ubiquitous use of liquid clay moulds in contemporary ceramics. “There is value in the handmade,” she says – in the slower way of making things. d.t. concedes she is not a production potter. A day’s work may see the production of three cups. None of these cups is the same. Nor would she want them to be. Through her practice and the process of making, she yields to the life of the clay and prefers higher temperature glazes and red clay that may generate more unpredictable results. This is compatible with her loose and organic style of working.
As an autonomous potter, d.t. has had to be resourceful. Through the years, she has taken her work to different studios in the city – often on the TTC – to fire her pottery in different local kilns. She still makes her work on her wheel at home, but now comes to Inspiration Studios for the kiln and the glazes. “When I come here, I solve problems. I have access to clay. It’s expensive to work in other places.” The Studio also exposes her to different ways of working. Though she draws somewhat from the community, her life experience is what most impacts her creations. She is currently working on a series of one meal bowls. “I live alone… I don’t have to wash lots of dishes. You can cook in it and serve, with all your food in the same bowl.”