I met Barbara Donovan online several years ago. We were in the same blog circle –a group of bloggers who write about the same subject once a month and link each other’s blogs so the reader can get various perspectives on the same subject. I was always fascinated with her whimsical, yet often sarcastic animal characters that she created in her blog posts and on all her amazing pottery. So, when I started this blog, I immediately thought of Barbara and she graciously agreed to an interview. On a side note, I’m the proud owner of this beauty!
Let’s check in with Barbara and hear her story.
My name is Barbara Donovan and I am a potter in Louisiana creating handmade functional pottery inspired by wild things and quirky pets.
I’ve been drawn to animals for as long as I can remember, and as a child I wanted to be a veterinarian. As it turns out, I’m pretty squeamish so it just wasn’t meant to be. While animal imagery on my pots has been a constant over the years, the animals have slowly evolved from graceful, stoic, expressionless creatures to the questionable characters they are currently. They are sometimes cute, often nervous, frequently snarky or grouchy, and more often lately, they are poorly behaved. The imagery is inspired by my pets, the stereotypical attributes humans assign to animals, or my observations about people and popular culture.
I currently enjoy working with mid-range domestic porcelain clay to make my functional pottery. The pieces are wheel thrown, altered, and carved to accentuate animal imagery with colorful commercial underglazes brushed on before firing. After drying and the initial bisque firing, the pots are glazed with glazes I make myself and fired again in an electric kiln to cone 6.
I was always a crafty kid and preferred modeling clay, hooking rugs, or embroidery as opposed to drawing and painting. It wasn’t until I took a ceramics class in my second year of college as a business major that I considered art as a career. After one more clay class I was smitten and changed my major to Ceramics. I received my BFA at Louisiana State University in 1986, and my MFA from Wichita State University in 1989. I’ve been a studio potter since 1990.
I’ve had domestic mice and rats, canaries, parakeets, and cockatiels in the past. Currently, my husband and I have a husky mix, a Catahoula hound dog, and a fierce little kitty that keeps them both in line. I have bird feeders outside my studio window and thus inadvertently feed the squirrels as well.
Hmmm. This is hard. I don’t normally get attached to individual pieces, but occasionally if a pot I am particularly pleased with sells quickly, I might feel a little regret that it left before I was ready to let it go. Sometimes I’ll keep a favorite piece for a while but “favorite” is often a temporary title that changes as the work progresses.
The nervous bunny is my alter ego.
Want to see more of Barbara's cool work and get to know her better? You can find her here: