I met Cara Carter through a close friend of mine, Cara’s mom. Like most moms, Marylin has a tendency to brag about her amazing children. Once I saw Cara’s beautiful, functional, sometimes whimsical creations, I realized the bragging was definitely warranted.
I’d be lying if I said I’m not jealous of her talent. I’ve tried pottery. It’s not as easy as it looks. What Cara does is art. What I did was schmooshing clay around on a wheel.
Let me introduce you!… a monthly introduction to some wildly talented people, a glimpse into the world of creativity.
Cara Carter: Making the Ordinary Extraordinary
I don’t remember how old I was when I took my first real art class. It wasn’t finger painting or playdough, but a class with “grownups”. I remember my mother on the phone, convincing the instructor that I had the interest and the maturity to attend. She was definitely correct about the interest.
Negative space. Hue. Directional light. And the tools? Charcoal and graphite and pastels and… I was in heaven. That first real art class hit me in my heart. This was a thing I could really do. These were people I could learn from!
I’d always been an artist in training under my mother’s wing. We are “makers”, never sitting still without an idea and drive to create something new. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but it just is. She is a painter, quilter, and an all-around creative. All through my life, she would point out the hints of colour within shadows, or the intricate details of the sky above. As we would drive to visit relatives, my mother would pull the car over, and we’d trek through a field so she could take photos of the perfect stormy sky, faded barn, or rusting farm machinery for a future painting. This was normal.
I minored in Fine Arts at the University of Regina, sharing space with the barely contained chaos of creativity. This community drew me into exploring a variety of methods and media, sculpting plaster, trying performance art. I enjoyed it all, and spent much of my spare time with markers or paintbrush in hand.
I continued my primary studies in natural sciences, dabbling with art but remaining enamored with genes, bugs, and chemistry. I had so much envy for my mother’s passion for painting that my passion for science resembled, but didn’t quite satisfy. True love came accidentally when I found the medium that stole my heart: clay.
Ceramics satisfies my great loves for science, for making, and for art, all in one. The first mug I made that came off of the pottery wheel made me feel like I had mastered the impossible. I make things from mud. MUD. I became infatuated with functional pottery. These items are the tableware you use, the items that have jobs in your daily life, and those daily use items are what I am passionate to create.
My website has a tag “making the ordinary extraordinary” because I feel like that is my calling: everything in our homes should be as beautiful as possible. I create bowls and cups that are part of daily ritual as we break bread with family and friends and wake up with coffee in the early morning hours.
When someone drinks from a cup that I have made, their lips caress the rim and they are nurtured, comforted, or warmed by the liquid held within. These things that I make often have a personal meaning to the people that use them. That fundamental basis is what draws me back and inspires my new projects.
When I couldn’t use a pottery wheel with a baby attached to me, I gradually started experimenting with making other things, and the “thing” that has stuck the longest is buttons.
I’m a knitter and crocheter, and I saw a need. Note: When I need things, I tend to try to make them out of clay first. That’s how I started making bookmarks and yarn bowls and magnets. As I played with ideas, I started making more buttons than I could sew in a lifetime, and I opened an online shop to sell my wares.
I’ve been selling buttons and other wee things in my shop for four years now I’ve started peddling larger items such as yarn bowls and tableware at fibre fairs where knitters, crocheters, quilters, and spinners migrate. The community of fibre artists reminds me of the university fine arts community: full of passion, ideas, and friendship.
The non-tableware items I make are still functional, still part of daily rituals, and now, with pottery and yarn, I’m tying myself to ancient crafts, continuing the traditions from long ago.
A knitter will use one of my yarn bowls to knit sweaters for their family, and then use my created buttons to finish these garments.
Avid readers and musicians tack my bookmarks to mark their place. Requests now come in and I use them as creative challenges. After all, that’s the only way I’d ever know that I can make hand feeders for hummingbirds, and if my work can be worthy of hosting departed loved ones’ ashes.
I’m not sure what I’ll create next, but as long as there is a need for beautiful functional items, I’m sure I can keep busy. Makers don’t sit still.
Please leave comments, questions, and plenty of “oohs and ahhs” below. Cara will be able to see them all, and might even jump in with a response!