Gone global

Sherry Martell
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North Shore potter sending products around the world

TATAMAGOUCHE - From a backroad studio in a rural coastal village, Sara Bonnyman has thrown herself onto the international stage.
During the past 35 years the Tatamagouche-based potter has built her business from the ground up with her own two hands and is now shipping her clay pots to every corner of the globe.
"It just shows the marvel of how the world works now. It really doesn't matter where you are, a lot of hard work and pleasure in what you do brings the world to your front door," said Bonnyman.
Technology has helped grow her business that began with a few hand-made crafts at a Christmas craft market.
"I sold enough cushions to pay for a kiln and I sold planters and I never looked back," said the potter. "I worked harder and harder and kept at it until I got better and better."
Bonnyman was 13-years-old when she had her first introduction to pottery. Her mother was taking a pottery course at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and shared her new hobby with her daughter, who at first had little interest in learning.
"I wanted to weave," she said. "But I was sent off to pottery school and I loved it."
She said there was something about the smell and feel of the clay that made her fall in love with the craft, and the food at the two-week course was incredible.
"The food was unbelievable but more than that, it was the food being served on pots," she said. "There's just nothing like it."
Her specialty is functional domestic pottery and she turns a variety of items from mixing bowls to place settings, mugs, vases and everything in between.
About eight years ago she initiated an Internet website, allowing her to expand her customer base. Three years ago the launch of a new product, the Moss Scuttle, opened markets she had never dreamed even possible.
"It's pretty incredible where they have all gone," she said, naming Iraq, Australia, Iceland, Denmark and Spain as a few shipping destinations.
The small pot was designed by Tatamagouche physician Dr. Christopher Moss and is used to keep a lathered shaving brush warm.
To date, Bonnyman has shipped 1,600 scuttles around the globe.
With nimble fingers she makes clay rise up on the wheel, transforming a neat ball into a usable pot.
"It's like farming," she said. "It looks so simple but there's so much to it and it really is a battle of the mind."
She is constantly changing her focus to craft one-of-a-kind pots and has invented a unique glaze, Robbie Burns, perfected on the Scottish poet's birthday.
She said she didn't have a business plan when she started more than three decades ago and she doesn't have one now. But one thing for certain is she will continue throwing clay as long as she is able.

Organizations: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Geographic location: TATAMAGOUCHE, North Shore, Iraq Australia Iceland Denmark Spain

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