Debbie Gilmer, master potter and owner of Gilmer Clayworks in South Mountain, creates unique and functional pieces that are available online, as well as in her 10104 Nation River Road shop. Pictured is her summer series. Courtesy Photo

Local master potter showcases new ‘summer series’

SOUTH MOUNTAIN – “I create functional stoneware pottery items for hearth and home,” gilmer clayworks owner, Debbie Gilmer, said.

Located at 10104 Nation River Road in South Mountain, Gilmer Clayworks is a home-based business where Gilmer creates and sells her many unique creations. A master potter, Gilmer has been creating stoneware pottery for more than three decades.

“After 35 years of creating stoneware pottery on my electric wheel, I have mastered the art (and science) of creating pottery,” she said. “Experts say one needs over 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. I have probably four times that amount of time at the wheel.”

Gilmer creates an assortment of functional items, including serving dishes of all kinds, such as platters, berry bowls, pedestal cake trays, teapots, casseroles, and large bowls. She also produces batter bowls, spoon rests, utensil caddies, saltshakers, pitchers, mugs, tankards, bowls, stemmed goblets, plates, custom dog bowls, soap trays, custom dish sets, and Christmas ornaments. Gilmer also works with clients directly to fulfill unique customer requests.

“Items can always be improved upon and experimenting with new ideas is one of the joys of being a studio potter as opposed to a production potter making set items that are replicated exactly as listed in a catalogue,” she said. “Some of my best stock items have originally come from customer requests. In the past, I have also worked with couples to create a gift registry for custom-made dish sets. I like the challenge of creating new items that function well. Recent examples of this are a coffee pour-over and a slow-feed dog bowl.”

Gilmer said there’s a series of steps to creating pottery, beginning with sketching, and developing concepts, followed by throwing several pieces on the wheel or building by hand, drying, bisque firing, glaze making, glaze application, glaze firing, inspection, and sanding the rough bits. She said the steps create a cycle of work in the studio, and that one, two, or several of these cycles creates a “series” of similar-looking work.

“I am currently working on a summer series,” Gilmer said. Gilmer’s summer series is pictured here and can also be found on her website. “My next cycle of work in the summer series will introduce splashes of lemon yellow and turquoise, as well as the original lime green and charcoal. Once I have explored this style to my satisfaction, I will develop another series. I sometimes revisit ideas decades later.”

While Gilmer has been a potter now for many years, pottery-making didn’t become a full-time “second career” until about 20 years ago. In addition to creating and selling her work, Gilmer also gave pottery lessons at her in-home studio for roughly 10 years prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also hosts an annual Christmas artisans event featuring not only her own creations, but those of other local artisans as well.

“I only host one event annually and it has really grown in popularity. We switched to appointment-only format when COVID hit and this approach was so successful, we will continue to take half-hour bookings for this December also,” Gilmer said.

She noted that those who attended last year’s Christmas artisans’ event will receive a text or email a week before this year’s schedule opens. She also said she’ll be advertising via Facebook and Instagram beginning in November 2022.

“Now that the pandemic has subsided, I am doing more in-person shows – Garden Party Markets in Winchester at the Planted Arrow this summer, Merrickville Festival of the Arts, Merrickville Studio Tour where she will be hosted at Rideau Ramble near Kemptville, Pottery Show and Sale at Marlin Orchards in Summerstown, Ottawa Guild of Potters Christmas Show at Lansdowne Park, and my annual Open House the first weekend in December here at the studio,” Gilmer said.

To find out more about Gilmer Clayworks and the items available, contact Gilmer directly via email (, or phone (613-889-2871). For those interested in online shopping, Gilmer also has a website ( Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

“Heartfelt thanks, that ‘shop local’ is becoming a commitment made by more and more customers, which enables little shops like mine to succeed,” Gilmer said. “I always love to have customers pop by the shop. Come by chance or by appointment.”


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