Originally from northern Virginia, my clay career began in 1996 when I took ceramics as an elective in my sophomore year of high school with instructor George Juliano. I majored in Business Management at James Madison University (Go JMU Dukes!) but continued taking pottery classes at a local recreation center with professional potter Phill Ungar until my junior year. In my senior year, with Mr. Ungar’s recommendation, JMU professor Masako Miata granted me the honor of an override of the normal prerequisites so that I could be accepted into JMU’s intermediate clay course. I also took a kiln class to learn to fire electric kilns, high-fire propane kilns and salt/soda fired propane kilns. I think I spent more time in the clay classroom my senior year at JMU than I did doing work for my business classes!
After graduating from JMU, I moved to southwest Florida in 2004 to work a summer camp at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. I was active in environmental issues in college, so the Nature Center job seemed like a good fit by allowing me to do something I cared about in a great location – Florida! On a field trip to Sanibel Island with Nature Center summer campers, I discovered A Touch Sanibel Pottery – a working pottery shop on the island! I completed a one-and-a-half year apprenticeship at the island pottery shop with David and Barbara Hoggatt from 2005 – 2006 where I fine-tuned my throwing skills, learned the disciplines of production pottery, and the business of managing a full-time working pottery shop. I truly cherish my time at the pottery shop and believe it was the most important experience of my clay career.
During my apprenticeship at the island pottery shop, I began teaching evening pottery classes at BIG ARTS Art Center on Sanibel Island and continued teaching those classes for 12 years. After my apprenticeship at the pottery shop, I registered my business (Williamson Pottery, LLC) in October of 2006 so I could sell my own work at local art and craft shows but went back to working full-time in environmental education for 10 years as an Education Naturalist with the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers, FL and then as a Senior Program Specialist with Lee County Parks and Recreation at Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva, FL. Between working full-time, teaching evening pottery classes and making pottery for a couple local art and craft shows each year, I estimate I worked an average of 50 hours a week.
As of June 2015, I became full-time professional potter! I am excited about the challenge of making a living doing what I love. I am thankful for the schooling and work experiences I have had and especially for my husband, John, who is my Number One Fan and who encourages me to pursue my dreams.
My work is primarily functional pottery inspired by southwest Florida coastal areas, my 10 years of work experience in environmental education and my apprenticeship at the Sanibel Island pottery shop. I continue to explore and experiment with various functional and decorative forms, glazes and firing processes. I love to create pieces that someone will use and enjoy for years.
I am thrilled to be participating in the Hirdie Girdie Gallery and look forward to making many more Sanibel memories.