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My introduction to clay began as a child, digging red earthenware clay out of the banks of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, pinching, rolling, slapping this marvelous stuff into all sorts of shapes – some even functional!  Clay has been a lifelong passion. My formal training in ceramics at the Nova Scotia College of Art, Vancouver School of Art and Douglas College came later, after two university degrees and five years of teaching kindergarten.

I have been making pottery, reduction fired stoneware and raku, in the Ottawa area since 1975.  I make pots to be used in the rituals of daily life in the home, in the kitchen, at the table, in the garden.  This chosen focus of the “vessel” provides endless opportunity to investigate concept and structure. Within this context, the relationships of idea, form, texture, and surface intrigue and engage me in exploring ‘variations on a theme’.  I work in series often returning to familiar forms to discover an essential gesture, or a deeper “knowing” experienced and revealed within each new variation.  It is my hope that the pieces convey a unity and vitality, an honouring and sensibility to the qualities of the material and process and open a space for communication with the user.

The traditional pottery of Japan, Korea, China, the Cycladic culture and African textiles and masks are rich sources of reference for my work.

For 38 years I have shared a studio with my husband Don Cormier. We work independently on our own pieces and occasionally work collaboratively on a short series. We share the same materials and firings. Currently, we are using two stoneware clay bodies which we prepare.  The work is fired in one of three propane fuelled gas kilns to 1260º C – 1350º C in a reduction atmosphere.

We continue to work with traditional glazes – shino, celadon, temmoku while developing new glazes.

In addition to my work as a potter I have been active in the arts community as a volunteer, teacher, mentor, consultant, curator and juror serving as President of the Ontario Potters Association (Fusion) and the Ontario Crafts Council, a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Craft Council, the Council for the Arts Ottawa, and the founding program committees and Boards of Directors of Arts Court and the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Public Collections include: Canada Council for the Arts – Art Bank, Canadian Museum of History (Civilization), City of Ottawa, Claridge Collection, Burlington Cultural Center, Fusion: the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, Ontario Crafts Council, Royal Ontario Museum and Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Leta Cormier portrait