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Featured Artist: Rosemary Danaher

Updated: Feb 20

"Don't force the clay."



"If you try to force the clay to your own idea, you will often be disappointed. Instead, be open to following the clay’s lead and you will often find something new and rewarding as a result of being open and flexible."

Rosemary began learning about pottery in 1972. "I was fortunate to have Dr. Hayward as an instructor. He not only trained us in pottery - his enthusiasm and depth of knowledge were inspiring. I also took an acrylic course but had an awful teacher who really put me off the medium. If I had another great teacher I probably would have been torn between painting and pottery."

Not letting a bad experience stop her, Rosemary decided to embrace painting through watercolour and only occasionally uses acrylic. However, her first and strongest love is clay.



"Working with clay is a challenging medium. There are so many ways to work with clay. Unfortunately, my hands aren’t as strong as they once were, so throwing on the wheel has become more challenging. That still leaves so many variations that can be done with hand building. Pottery is so multi-dimensional, and I love working with my hands in a tactile environment."

The differences that slight changes can make fascinate Rosemary. "We had a class where 12 glazes were prepared from the same basic recipe. They all fired differently. Sometimes it is the placement in the kiln, the exact temperature reached, the length of time it takes to reach temperature, the water used to mix the glaze, the thickness of the glaze, the date of the chemicals, or the purity of the base chemicals – all those factors have an impact on the final product. I have one glaze that is red when fired at the bottom of the kiln but almost clear when placed elsewhere in the kiln."

Always looking for inspiration and new challenges, Rosemary is a fan of taking classes as well as teaching. She finds that every time she teaches, she learns something new. "I really like MISSA and try to go every year. Being a student for a whole week is marvelous! There is totally no pressure, you don’t have to cook, and you can use the studios day and night. You also have the benefit of different instructors who give you an insight into various techniques. The one I liked most from this year’s instruction was not demonstrated but just talked about. Of course, I had to do the reverse and loved the result. The same level of learning can be had when teaching. In our last class, with 10 students, you had 10 different projects created. That really warmed my heart. Everyone did something of their own and interpreted the lesson in their own special way."



One would think that she loves everything about pottery, but that isn’t so. "Recycling the clay – I hate recycling as it is so much work. If someone bought me a pug mill for Christmas, I would be very, very happy. If we are talking about what I like least about teaching, it would be the packing and unpacking all the materials and tools for each class and all the challenges of taking home the pieces for firing."


When asked about what she would wish for in the new year, Rosemary immediately answered, "A creative partner. Someone who would encourage me, has enthusiasm, isn’t competitive, is willing to do research, and would help pack boxes in and out for classes or sales. They would be perfect if they would also build me a Raku kiln," she added with a laugh.


Although marketing and selling are among the least favorite parts of her business, Rosemary finds positive aspects as well...


"Doing pottery is a very solitary occupation. I really appreciate feedback and often get ideas as well as positive comments when I am part of a show. I think that is very important to any artist."



Rosemary has been a member of Arts at Cowichan Lake for 4 years and is currently serving on our board of directors. Her history is in teaching, and we are glad that is the case. In 2024, Rosemary will be teaching 3 different classes in pottery – all using the hand building process.


Register for her upcoming pottery classes: Paper Clay & Nerikomi See more of Rosemary’s work, email: rdanaher@shaw.ca for an appointment. For a chance to be included in our Featured Artist series, email: admin@cowichanlakeartsandculture.org | Subject line: Featured Artist


Photographer: Loretta Puckrin

Author: Loretta Puckrin

Editor: Irene Elliott

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