Mayco: Please tell us about yourself–what’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
Sonja: It’s hard to decide what’s important to talk about! I feel like where I am now is where I’ve always been trying to get, and I feel settled with a wonderful family and a hobby I hope will one day become a career. I currently pay the bills as the manager of a fantastic shoe store. I’m lucky to have a great staff and upper management who make my job not just a job. In University I planned to be a teacher, and I completed two degrees to that end. I then moved to Korea and taught there for four years before deciding that the classroom wasn’t for me. I still love teaching though,
and as a salesperson, I do get to teach people every day. In the future, I hope the studio is where I can be an educator. Three years ago I met the love of my life, and she and her boys welcomed me into their lives and home, and I’ve been a proud “Momja” ever since. I’ve tried all kind of art forms, including jewelry making, printmaking, sewing, and (most seriously) painting. I have loved all of them for a time, but pottery is the second love of my life.
Where did your interest in ceramics come from?
Sonja: I had always been curious to try wheel throwing, and when my partner signed us up for a 4 week class for “date night” I was thrilled! I smashed a lot of clay around that first night, but I didn’t “make” anything. I did know that I loved it and little by little it hooked me! What I love most is it engages my whole body in creating. I have experimented casually with many different art forms, but none have enraptured me mentally and physically the way ceramics has.
How would you describe your style of work, the materials you use and how you’re inspired?
Sonja: I have mostly focused on landscape designs, drawing inspiration from the nature of my hometown in the mountains, and my adult home with beautiful views of both the mountains and prairies. I love engaging with art through all my senses, so I want to incorporate texture and bold color into my work. My work should be held and used, not just looked at.
What are you favorite Mayco products to use? How do these products show off your work?
Sonja: I love to use Mayco Stroke and Coat to create the skies on my landscapes. I love the variety of colors Mayco offers and the fact they can be mixed to create all the varied colors of Alberta skies. I also love to use Mayco Flux to create snow-capped peaks on my mountains. It adds so much visual texture to the landscapes. I am looking forward to trying many new products as my work expands.
What effect do you want your work to have on people?
Sonja: I want people to look at and use my work as a daily reminder of the beauty of our home and the power of nature. I hope that using my pieces will bring more joy to a routine event like eating breakfast or taking off your jewelry for the night, maybe causing you to pause in the moment and reflect on a happy memory of a time you were “unplugged”, surrounded by the mountains.
Who is your ceramics “hero”, or an artist that you really look up to?
Sonja: I am so excited to be finding new artists every day through social media. The community is rich, and I look forward to making more connections and learning from many potters. My biggest ceramic influences so far are my teacher and classmates at Fairview Studios in Calgary. They have been so encouraging and supportive as I step into this world.
What was the first piece of pottery you made (that you remember), and why did you fall in love with the art form?
Sonja: I remember my first piece well – I threw it just over a year ago after all! It’s a small “vase” glazed in turquoise with a carved leaf design on it. I thought I would be artsy and make an asymmetrical rim (it was on purpose, I swear), but I found out the following week I had made my job a lot harder when I had to trim it using a chuck! Part of the reason I fell in love with the art form was this aspect of improvisation. If you’ve tried pottery, you know things don’t always go as planned, but one of the most satisfying parts are trying something new and getting a result you love. That little vase has since been made into a candle, and it’s lighting up my front-room sanctuary as I type.
In addition to creating your own ceramic art, what are your hobbies?
Sonja: I have two step-sons and three 4-legged sons, so there’s not much room for more than one hobby! Especially since I want to fill every spare minute doing pottery! When I can though, I enjoy spending time “off the grid” at my parents’ camper in B.C and swimming in the cold mountain lake. I also care for a large collection of houseplants.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Sonja: I’ve been very lucky to travel extensively and even live overseas a few times. I would like to take our kids to Korea and make them eat all the delicious foods and visit all my old haunts there. I wish I had been exposed to pottery before living there, and I regret not learning more about Korean ceramics. I would love to visit again with my new appreciation of the art! On the top of my wishlist are Iceland and Scandinavia. I imagine the landscapes there would provide me many years’ worth of inspiration!
What would be the ultimate gift someone could give to you?
Sonja: All I want for Christmas and Hanukkah are pottery themed gifts (all the tools!!) or the gift of a new experience. My partner and I try to try new things for date night – we’ve tried glass blowing, macrame, ring making, and of course pottery! I am always up for a “coupon” for a future date night!