I’ve always been working with my hands, imagining and building. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get to the library to check out the National Geographic magazines, which even included the index book. My dad was a huge fan of nature shows, so as a Canadian child of the 80s, I have fond memories of Sunday nights, watching the Magical World of Disney followed by the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. From some combination of these things, I was inspired to build a “blind” out of our lawn chairs in our Montreal backyard, so I could observe and document the natural behaviour of our local wildlife: the grey squirrel. I can’t tell you how many images I shot, with my Fisher Price camera, of a pixelated grey dot (the squirrel) through the gridded back of the lawn chairs (the white grid is visible in every photo). But my parents never discouraged me, especially my mom, who faithfully took the film to be developed.
My mom always encouraged my sister and I to play and build. Early on, I had the box of simple wooden blocks, eventually replaced by Lego, which I used to build houses, complete with landscaped yards (thank you Lego bushes). I loved building epic forts from the sofa cushions, sheets and whatever other furniture was at hand. The one-time purchase of a new fridge left me with a fridge box, easily one of the best things I’d ever had. Into that I built a new fort, which led to hours and days of fun, until the box finally collapsed. Books, forts, homemade playdoh, self-hardening clay, dirt in the backyard (I had a penchant for digging holes in the garden with my Tonka excavator); all of these things were the building blocks to where I am now, along with the freedom to play and imagine.
When I moved back to Nova Scotia in 2009 after finishing graduate school at the University of Washington, I worked on a dairy farm. Caring for and tending to all those animals, the physically hard work, left me exhausted daily but satisfied. After two years, though, I was ready to return to making and I was invited to begin teaching at NSCAD University in Halifax. Around this time I began to renovate a vacant building, turning it into a studio. From this space, I have developed functional ware, while every so often fitting in the time to explore installation-based work.
In the meantime, it would seem my partner and I have become small farmers. On our 6-acre piece of the world not far from Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, we keep honeybees, raise hens for eggs, turkeys and chickens for meat, and grow vegetables for our own use. I love gardening and every year add more beds and flowers to my ever-expanding perennial gardens. Amid the gardens, you’ll find our rescued animals: Abby, our big lovie Rottweiler mix, and the 3 cats–Bruiser, The Fuzz and Peeper–I found abandoned on a local road. In my world, creating and growing and playing is a never-ending project, and I love it.
You can keep up with me and my adventures in the studio and small farming, by following me on Facebook and/or Instagram at racheldecondeceramics
In the meantime, enjoy the videos below, capturing just a few of the happenings around here.