Potter Spotlight: Sharon Paulovich, The Land and the Earth

Sharon Paulovich is a wonderful potter and agronomist, who farms the land and forms the earth. Her story, her passion for clay, and her life with the land is one of hard work, long days, deep commitment, and creativity.

Farm equipment at the dimming of the day!

All committed potters can testify that working with clay is hard work. You must love to labor. Sharon is a potter who was created for clay. Her hands are in the earth all year long. She labors on the land for 3 long seasons, then while the land rests she is in her studio making pots.

Sharon, her husband Trevor, and her mother in law farm 24,000 acres in rural northwestern Alberta, Canada (“24,000” is not a typo).
The farm, home studio, and her Manibigama wood kiln are where Sharon lives and breathes.

Sharon’s Manibigama Wood Kiln

The elements: land, earth, plants, wood, and fire are constants in her life and are naturally in every facet of her pottery.
“Nature informs my work. On the farm we try to work in harmony with nature. In the studio I find myself using grains, leaves, and grasses in surface design,” Sharon says.

When talking about her process and aesthetic Sharon speaks with confidence. “I am very drawn to traditional forms. Pots that are for serving food make up the bulk of my work. My style for surface decoration is very minimalistic. I love to let the forms and glaze speak for themselves. I do find, over time, that I am exploring a bit more decoration on my work though.” Like all highly creative people, she is exploring and pushing her limits in skill and design.

Woodfired Lamp by Sharon Paulovich

It is my joy to work with Sharon in our Study From Afar Mentoring Program. She knows herself fully as an artist. She understands her aesthetic, and where she is headed. I suspect the long hours of solitude on that expanse of the land give her lots of time to think, dream, and plan.

Sharon began making pots when she was four years old with her mother. It is a passion she and her mother shared until her mothers passing. “Mum and I used to look at pictures of wood fired pots in books together when I was very small. I have always been fascinated with wood firing,” Sharon says.

Building her own wood kiln must have been destiny, a dream nurtured in part by her mother and nature. So when the time was right, Sharon contacted potter and wood kiln expert John Theis, and they built her dream kiln, the Manabigama. Then they fired it together.

Manabigama in construction phase

Pots from Manabigama’s maiden firing
with John Theis & his wife Tiffany

Sharon fires once a year in early summer. Like her farm, her pottery has one annual harvest.The whole winters worth of work is loaded into the kiln and the fire is built, stoked and the temperature rises. Like the land, Sharon has a kiln that requires being fully engaged, fully present. She prepares the wood, builds the fire, stokes the fire constantly, listens, watches and waits.
I suspect all this comes naturally to Sharon.

Sharon is actively building her pottery business. She is creating her website. www.potteryonthefarm.com
She will be selling her pots all over the world once a year, and I plan to have a piece in my collection for sure!

I just love potters. Pottery is not for the faint at heart. They are passionate, resilient, hard workers, and mighty overcomers. Sharon is that potter.

Sharon Paulovich

About: Study From Afar (SFA) Independent Study and Mentoring (ISM) Potters
Potters working together in a mentoring relationship is an age old tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is my joy and honor to have been mentored by some great potters and to be a mentor to many in this season of my career. In this blog series, I spotlight potters studying in our Study From Afar (SFA) or on location in our Independent Study and Mentoring Program (ISM). 

Interviewed and Written by:

Sarah Wells Rolland


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