I am very excited to head a just a few miles north this weeked to attend a workshop given by my instructor and friend, Bill Van Gilder. I have been taking classes with Bill for the last couple of years. I had to take a break this past year due to - well - life! But I am very pleased to be able to attend this weekend as Bill is closing the Frederick Pottery School in June.
But I get ahead of myself...
Let's go back a about 10 years ago...I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I dearly needed to find "something" to do outside of the house. I took a beginner pottery class with a friend who persuaded me to go. I immediately found the challenge and the peaceful quiet studio an attraction. I was hooked for good!
I started taking classes at a larger local Clay Center - Clayworks Charlotte, and had the honor of learning from some GREAT young and talented artists. Amy Sanders, Julie Wiggins, Jen Mecca, Adreinne Dellinger, Greg Scott and Ron Philbeck. I jostled back and forth between instructors each session as I had to work around sick children, and my husband's work and travel schedule.
Many times, my babysitting would not pan out, or a sick child, or - life- would happen and I would have to miss class. My frustration level was high, because I could not learn fast enough. I wanted to take it all in.
One afternoon, after laying the kids down for nap, I stumbled upon a pottery instruction show on DIY Network. The instructor was Bill Van Gilder and I about cried - I could actually learn right from my living room - kids, sickness, chores, and all!
I found Bill's instruction clear, concise, and super insighful. I watched these shows religiously and was so thankful for the opportunity to learn in this forum from my home. Remember, this was before YouTube, Facebook, Etc. - Bill and DIY really pioneered this whole pottery video concept.
Each week, I looked for this show and watched and learned- babies in tow. I imagined his studio up in the "North East, perhaps Vermont - somewhere in New England. I dreamed of having a studio like his one day and how woderful it would be to be a full time potter.
Well, fast forward about 8 years. My family had moved to Northern Virginia. I had moved my pottery studio from Charlotte to Leesburg, VA and I was working on settling into the community. I was actually teaching by this point and selling my work in a few small shops and galleries.
I heard of a new gallery opening in Leesburg - The Cooley Gallery. I dropped in one evening right before the grand opening and this cool kid (Chris) said hello and told me about his gallery. He said, by the way, Bill here is one of our artists - meet Bill Van Gilder.
I about had a heart attack...I was staring at my "virtual" mentor live and in person. After I collected myself (embarrassingly not very quickly) I found out his studio was a short distance away up in Gapland, Maryland and that there was a few rare openings in his class in Frederick by chance.
So for the last few years, I have travelled up to Maryland once a week to learn in person from the instructor I followed so closely on DIY Network. I have learned a lot from Bill, about pottery, about business, about life in general. I have met a super group of friends from his class and it has been a wonderful experience.
I am taking his workshop this weekend, excited to catch up with the latest work Bill is creating, and to be reminded of his amazing wealth of knowledge, but more importantly his willingness to share it with the world -whether on TV or live and in person!