by George Clark
Tracy Winter hated school, choosing to leave and become a glazier.
That role as a glazier was actually a role in ceramics, glazing items to put into a kiln, a thermally insulated chamber producing temperatures sufficient to complete chemical changes.
Kilns have been used for millennia to turn objects into pottery, tiles and bricks.
Ms Winter was given her kiln on her 21st birthday.
“I worked for someone else for years before starting up my own shop in Christchurch, Tracey’s Hobby Ceramics, to make and sell my own creations. This was a time when The Warehouse started to produce mass pottery so I chose to start playing around with glass.”
Glass proved popular with a customer base at local markets and private purchases but sustaining that lifestyle was an ongoing challenge.
After three children and the last 15 years in gainful employment as a teacher aide, time spent in Covid-19 lockdown has assured Ms Winter that this is what she would like to do professionally for the rest of her life.
“I was here by myself in lockdown and although initially scared that something could happen to me and no-one noticed, ended up loving it,” she said, laughing.
“I pottered around, thought, started on some projects and assessed what I was going to do with my life. I now know I do not want to go back to a day job but to make a living from this. Making money can be hard but I am ready to face that challenge.”
The 2011 earthquakes were a major reason to use recycled materials.
“I lost nearly everything except my kiln in those quakes, all material and art pieces were liquefaction damaged or broke. My material came from smashed bus shelters, glass from the Christchurch Central ANZ and other buildings affected by quakes that I still use to this day.”
An art gallery in Parnell has kicked off her money-making future.
“They are not selling quickly but they are selling. When Seven Oaks came down I went in there to see if they had plate glass but it was too late, the building was already compromised.”
Ms Winter always wanted to be an artist and said her happy place was in the studio with her kiln on.
“It is the anticipation of opening to see your creation, know how excited you are and itching to get it open. If you open it too early everything cracks, which has certainly happened a lot. I have to stop myself.”