Mark Hemmingson graduated from UBC in 1989 with a major in Creative Writing, and a minor in Anthropology. He spent nine years in the social services including community work and employment counselling in the Vancouver area. In 1995 Mark started a stained glass company called, Red Herring Art Glass. For the next ten years he created windows for homes in the lower mainland, and for pubs across Canada and the US.
I discovered clay when we moved to Sorrento in 2004
In the beginning I was going to work in glass and help Sheryl get her studio started. But, it didn’t take long to see how much there was to do to turn our two car garage into a proper studio. Soon I found myself building shelves, fixing kilns, mixing glazes, making tools, rolling out slabs of clay, and eventually sitting down at the potter’s wheel.
I started with small bowls, and gradually worked my way through the various shapes and sizes. As I took on new shapes I began to appreciate the variety of objects that can come from a simple ball of clay.
One thing I like about clay is that it can easily be re-used if the pot doesn’t turn out. There is a great freedom in knowing that mistakes are part of how I learn. On a new item I might throw half my pots into the recycle bin as I learn to create the form. I think of the first ones as sketches that allow me to see the dimensions I’m aiming for. I also enjoy making the same shape over and over. To some this may seem tedious, but I like working on one thing for a day or two, getting to know it better as I go. There may be forty or more items when I’m done, but, to me, I’ve been creating and refining the same piece all along.