In the summer of 2006, my husband and I visited Scotland for the first time. The open spaces, the heathered hills, the misty skylines....it was enchanting. For both of us it was a visit to our roots, the country from which our ancestors came.
The first place we travelled to was the Isle of Skye on Scotland's ruggedly beautiful west coast. The drive to Skye takes you through impressive hills of every shade of green you can imagine. Later, as we drove through the highlands, the hills changed from green to purple. We were surrounded by heather! But it wouldn't be until I visited my grandfather's home villiage, Tillicoultry, that the determination to create an entire line of work around the colours of the heather would settle firmly in my mind. When I was there I climbed up the Glen of the Ochil Hills. Where the tree line stopped I found myself surrounded by heather in full bloom. The lilt of Grandpa's voice became the soundtrack to this precious moment in time when this line of work was born.
On returning home to Canada, I began to experiment with glazes, shapes, colour applications and complementary designs. I tested a number of different glaze formulas, none of which really did it for me. I wanted something transparent, something exciting, something that gave me overlapping areas that worked. Finally, after about a month of testing, I found what I was looking for. Not only did the green and aubergine work well together, they also worked off of each other. Where the two glazes overlap, there is always a miniature field of heather!
With that aspect of things working well, shapes became aonther important aspect of the collection. I wanted to echo the shape of thistles, which are also purple and green. I had taken a workshop with Jason L'Abbe who demonstrated how he makes beautiful flanged bowls. That flanged shape intrigued me. With some alteration of the lower part of the bowl into more of a rounded shape, and making the bowl green and the flange purple, the thistle bowl was born.
From there, everything about the line blossomed. More shapes and designs came together and the dream of settling into something that was truly of my own creation evolved. The first pots in the line were put out for sale at The Ottawa Guild of Potters' fall sale that year and completely sold out. I think what honoured me the most was hearing how people felt connected to my story and to the inspiration for this work.
Today I continue to produce this line of work and am continuing to add pieces to the line. I intend to post pictures of the work here, once I figure out how to do that! This spring I hope to have small tea pots available. But that's another story!