With Father’s Day coming up in a few weeks (June 20), we here at the Etsy Blog invited members of the community to share their inspiring stories of father-child creativity. Deb Gordon Moisan and her father Robert share a love of pottery and classical music. Deborah is blessed to live near her aging parents and to have the ability to care for them. When Deborah isn’t “working,” she relaxes at home with her life partner, Bryan, and their 5 cats.
My name is Deborah and I share a shop, dgordon, with my 90-year-old dad, Robert. Twelve years ago, when my husband and I parted ways, I left New York and moved to South Florida to stay with my parents until I knew what was next. My dad saw I was at loose ends, not knowing where I was going in life after my 26-year marriage had ended. He asked me one day if I wanted to apprentice under him, in pottery. Working with clay was clearly something he loved and was proud of, and he thought it might help.
Honestly, at first I did it to please him. I had no interest in clay back then. I had never even considered it — my creative interests had always been writing and illustrating. I knew he was trying to help me find something to do, a new direction to follow, and so I said (with a bit of reluctance), “Show me how, Dad.”
At first it was a bit difficult for me — Dad is a perfectionist, and I’m more laid back. Dad’s style is to design his piece on paper first, create and cut out templates and carefully put his creations together. The word “meticulous” comes to mind!
Robert Gordon in the “garagio”
Dad is self-taught. Dad says when he was 12 years old, he did a detailed pencil drawing that was selected to be in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. That was the beginning for him! He majored in art throughout school, became an art director and represented top artists. Later he began a film production company, Ampersand, and won a host of Clio awards. After retiring he saw a hand-built pot by Peter Voulkos and knew instantly that pottery was a form of art he wanted to pursue. Since then, Dad’s works have been exhibited in many galleries in North Carolina and South Florida, and he continues to create with clay today.
Pieces by Robert Gordon
I followed his instructions, but patience isn’t my strong suit, so within months my hands and mind were wandering off to less structured and more feminine creations. Soon, I was in love with it. He taught me “his style” and then my own style started to develop. My life partner of 12 years, Bryan, has really helped as well. He will watch me creating and say, “Why don’t you (fill in the blank) with that piece?” and sure enough, his suggestion was right on the mark. In fact, my most popular items owe thanks to his ideas.
Dad works in his “garagio” (our term for the studio). He works leaning on a tall stool and his clay and tools are all neatly arranged on the counter top. I, on the other hand, sit cross legged on the floor, a work board in front of me, my tools scattered within arms reach all over the floor. All the while, classical music plays loudly in the background.
Periodically Dad and I make pieces together as a collaboration. We hunt around thrift shops until we find items with beautiful details that could be used as stamps or made into molds. My dad used to do the clay work, and I would do the sanding and finishing. Now, with his bad back, I do the physical work on our collaborations and he chimes in with his suggestions: “What if you…” and “Why don’t you try this…” “Noel” is an example of a piece Dad and I worked on together last year, it’s one of my favorites.
Everything I have learned about pottery has come from two places: my dad and the Etsy Mud Team. The support, information and camaraderie of the team is beyond measure. Both of my daughters also have shops on Etsy. Sara, my youngest is ablaze — she has the most amazing photos! My oldest, Gabrielle, sells vintage in her shop, Sought. It was Gab who introduced me to Etsy — without her I’d have run out of storage space long ago for the pottery that I love making.
I have two passions at this point in my life, my pottery and sitting on the inlet wall, soaking up the sun and meditating as the ocean water rushes past me. I’m very blessed to be able to do what I love in life, and do be doing it with someone I love as much as I love my dad!
Thanks to Deb and Robert Gordon for sharing their story! Do you know of any crafty father-child duos?
Tell us about them in the comments below.