W: What drew you to ceramics?
CT: I graduated from ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design) 9 years ago. I had dabbled a bit with clay in some private classes before art school and I really enjoyed it. I had also done enough of it that I knew it was very challenging and quite physical, particularly throwing on the wheel. I saw this as a nice balance with the cerebral side of art making. I found this appealing.
W: Take us through your process.
CT: The pieces I'm currently making are all thrown on the wheel. They are fired 3 or 4 times building up the surfaces between firings. After the piece is thrown (and handles are attached, bowls are trimmed etc.) the first layer of colour is hand-painted onto the piece and the pieces are fired. The next stage is glazing and re-firing. After the pieces are glazed they are ready to have the prints applied. The prints are made by printing images onto a special transfer paper either by screen-printing or with a laser printer. The printed pieces are fired again; the prints are melted into the glaze so they won't fade or change over time (even in the dishwasher!). Some pieces are finished with bits of discontinued commercial decals (mostly florals) that are fired on at a lower temperature. I work in large batches so its hard to say exactly how long each piece takes though ceramics is a pretty labour-intensive practice no matter what your process is.
W: What inspires you in your work?
CT: My inspiration for pattern/ imagery is pretty broad. For pattern, it can be anything from a leaf to the tread of a shoe. It's just something I notice all over the place. For my designs, I try to keep an eye on what's going on in contemporary art/design culture but even more than that, I'm interested in how things are put together especially when things were made by hand with lots of attention to detail; a building, a garment, a table. I guess I'm always analyzing, usually sub-consciously the design and process of everyday objects in my surroundings. One of the most beautiful forms in the natural world I think is a chestnut. A perfectly imperfect form and it feels good in your hand!
W: You are one of our only artists in this show who have children. How do you manage it all?
CT: This is a constant challenge. I hire out parts of my working process that I can easily train someone else to do as well as some childcare, housecleaning etc. I involve my kids in my process wherever I can. I hope this helps them understand what I do and why I do it. I do work a lot so I really want them to see it in a positive light.
W: What is your favourite part of what you do?
CT: I really love throwing on the wheel. Even though I've been doing it for a long time I still find it very engaging and challenging. It's never become mundane even though I make the same forms over and over. I also love the element of collecting inspiration, images and other non-ceramic materials to bring to my ceramics practice. That was originally what drew me to combining print with clay. In this most recent work I've taken that a step further by collaging different materials (wood, leather, wool, clay) I love the possibilities when different materials, different process are brought together. It also gives me an excuse to go to second hand shops!
Cathy is a delight to work with and to be around! Perhaps you can share a drink with her tonight?