Meet the Maker: Mary Lazier

Mary fires up her pottery wheel only briefly, to attach the circular foot to the bottom of the bowl.

March 19, 2019 | | Made in the Hills

Watching Mary Lazier in action as she creates one of her glossy white slab pottery bowls, I imagine she really could do it blindfolded. She’s a blur of movement, even though, in her words, she is “pushing 80.”

Mary’s pieces have a timeless, modern feel, due in part to the clear glaze that dries to a watery, bluish white. She imprints patterns on each slab using laces she has collected over the years. The lace is vintage, but the effect is organic and fresh.

Mary Lazier creates one of her slab pottery bowls at her Mulmur studio. The intricate patterning is achieved using molds of vintage lace and wooden texture rollers. The bowl will be glazed in bluish white. Photo by Pete Paterson.

The intricate patterning is achieved using molds of vintage lace and wooden texture rollers. The bowl will be glazed in bluish white. Photo by Pete Paterson.

“Here’s the pizza!” she says, rolling out a circle of raw clay as if performing a television cooking demonstration. Her enormous worktop fills half the sunlit studio and gallery she shares with her potter husband, Mark Tichenor, just steps from their Mulmur home.

She quickly cuts her “pizza” into squares and triangles. Next, she uses a roller to press the slabs into moulds of various laces. Some laces produce wide, organic circles; others offer tight floral or scalloped patterns. To illustrate, Mary pulls out an Irish linen runner and some crisp white lace fit for a wedding dress. She often mixes several patterns to make a single bowl, mug or platter.

After creating a pattern on one side of a slab, Mary flips it over and uses various embossing tools to add more detail. When each slab is finished, she drapes it over an inverted bowl form, using a wet clay mixture on a paintbrush to secure it to the other pieces. Handles are the next step.

Mary fires up her pottery wheel only briefly, to attach the circular foot to the bottom of the bowl. Then she places a flat piece of wood under the foot, puts her hand inside the form and flips the whole thing upright. Playing to the camera on this day, Mary pulls off her best Julia Child trill and declares, “Bon appétit!”

Once fired and glazed, the bowl will sell in Mary and Mark’s Red Hen Gallery. Her mugs can also be found in Toronto at the Gardiner Museum. Mary has a long history as an educator and exhibitor at the renowned ceramics museum.

In addition to her signature white pieces, Mary fashions fanciful garden sculptures and has written several quirky local history books, illustrated in her charmingly naïve style. She and Mark also produce colourful hanging hummingbird feeders, and she is planning a new series of larger garden sculptures with neighbour and TV personality Mag Ruffman. Watch for them at an upcoming gallery event.

Mary Lazier creates one of her slab pottery bowls at her Mulmur studio. The bowl will be glazed in bluish white. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Mary Lazier creates one of her slab pottery bowls at her Mulmur studio. The bowl will be glazed in bluish white. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Mary’s slab pottery bowls range in price from $30 for small bowls to $90 for the largest. Her pottery is available at her Red Hen Gallery in Mulmur. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Mary’s slab pottery bowls range in price from $30 for small bowls to $90 for the largest. Her pottery is available at her Red Hen Gallery in Mulmur. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Looking at examples of her work on the counters and shelves around her, Mary smiles and says, “They’re all different. They’re all one of a kind.”

Kind of like their maker.

About the Author More by Tralee Pearce

Tralee Pearce is an associate editor of In The Hills Magazine.

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