“What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
When I was little, my grandmother’s best friend Phyllis Janes was an artist that had studied under the Group of Seven. When I would come to Toronto to visit, they would remind me to, ‘bring my portfolio!’ and I remember the critiques around the dining room table in a dark wood-panelled room. They treated me like I was an artist. Already.
I was dating a guy, and the relationship ended, It happens, but when it ended, his parents cried. Laurie and Ted, such a sweet couple. Laurie is a potter. We had had a date every Thursday night. I would bring her a casserole or dessert-treat, and she would teach me how to throw a mug on the wheel. I told Laurie that I was never breaking up with her. Not ever. She remains one of my dearest friends. She’s 80-something. Sometimes she’s the mentor, sometimes the mom, the sister, the friend.
Mentors. They mean so much. They mark time. Space.
Isaiah Zagar was my first mosaic-mentor. I thought,
“There must be someone out there doing what Gaudi did in Barcelona."
Sure enough, I find Isaiah! He was in Philadelphia, building castles out of broken mirror and ceramics. It was my birthday, 2009, and I took my boys for a weekend workshop. I haven’t stopped tiling since then.
I found Betsy Schulz by randomly walking into a costal park in California called Fletcher Cove (near San Diego) that was filled with THE most incredible mosaics that I had ever seen. I was in awe. I urgently searched the internet to find out who this artist was, found her number and called her. We had coffee. We have been friends ever since. Last year she agreed to mentor me for 2 weeks while she worked on the most incredible ceramic mural for San Diego’s Nature Collective. I learned so much.
Renato Foti is a friend and a master at engineering fused glass, and his drive and his daring is what inspired me to buy my first kiln. (Mine is a tiny baby kiln next to his three monsters!)
Deb Halbot has also inspired me. I’m not sure if she really realizes how much. She told me once that she decided to post one photograph every day to her ‘Through my Eyes’ page. It’s digital photography, so you know, you can take hundreds of photos. She get’s up and out of the house before the crack of dawn and captures some of the most incredible scenes that you have ever seen! Magic. For her one daily share, she looks for what she calls ‘The Showstopper’…..the one that takes your breath away. I told her that that idea continues to inspire my tiles…..’Who is the showstopper in the garden?’ I asked myself. The peony, who could even come close to it’s beauty? You may recognize one of her photos, it was the inspiration for my swan tiles and it is featured on my site.
There’s one other person that I must mention. Ron. When we started dating, I told him that I wanted to call him my boyfriend-partner. He builds and paints, glues and trouble-shoots and he’s an awesome cook. He’s been brilliant and I am eternally grateful.
So, to kick off this new year and this lovely new website (created with the incredible Jen Gordon) I want to say a BIG thank you to my mentors, but also to everyone who has supported my creative efforts. Ah, I don’t have to name you all….you know who you are. You ‘like’, and follow and you show up to the events. You encourage me. I truly believe that that is what this life is all about. Sharing.