About Donn Zver
Donn Zver was born in Millgrove Ontario in 1948, and in 1967 enrolled in the Sheridan College School of Design where he studied the Art of Pottery.
In 1971, he went on to further his studies at the world-famous Penland School of Craft in Penland, North Carolina where he soon become the first Canadian Potter to teach at the prestigious school.
Donn has lectured across Canada, including the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), Holland College in PEI, Fleming College: Haliburton School of Art and Design in Ontario, Mohawk College Saltfleet Campus where he established the Pottery Studio (1971), Dundas Valley School of Art where he built the first Gas Fired Kiln at the School, Canadore College in North Bay, ON and at Sheridan College School of Design.
In 1972, Donn opened the studio in Troy, Ontario, crafting a distinctive line of functional stoneware pottery. His work is included in many public and private collections.
These include the Dofasco Collection of Ontario Pottery, the Ontario Potters Collection, the Massey Foundation Collection of Canadian Crafts, Ottawa, the University of Alberta Collection and the Glenbow Gallery Permanent Collection.
Donn's Pottery pieces has also been included in the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC (Ottawa, ON)
Donn's work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Donn presenting a walking tour of an Exhibition of his work over the past 40 years at the Burlington Arts Centre. 21 pieces from this collection has been included in the Centre's Permanent Collection in 2013.
Donn at The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC (Ottawa, ON).
Diamond Jubilee Medal: 2013
In 2013, Donn was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal marking the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Accession to the Throne. This medal served to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
Donn's Journey In Pottery
First photograph of Donn throwing pottery as a high school student at Central Secondary School in Hamilton, ON. Photo taken in 1966.
Early Pottery pieces made in high school in 1966
First Bowl made in 1966.
Canary Yellow Glaze.
Vase Form in 1966.
Royal Blue Glaze.
Vase Form (carved) in 1966.
Gun Metal Glaze.
Vase Form made in 1966.
Donn's high school art teacher told him to give up any ideas about making a living at Pottery.
She also cut the ribbon when he opened his studio and still visits Donn all these 50+ years later.
June Hetherington-Pinkney cuts the ribbon to Donn's Pottery Studio in 1983. To her left is Donn and to her right is the Mayor of Flamborough Chris Ward
June Hetherington-Pinkney uncovers the name to the Donn Zver Pottery 1983.
Some 50+ years later, Donn continues his friendship with his first teacher June Hetherington-Pinkney. Here they are photoed at an Exhibition of Donn's work at the Burlington Arts Centre.
Donn has become one of this area's best-known artists and his mugs, dinnerware, vases and casserole dishes are used in many homes in Ontario and far beyond.
This year he will celebrate 50+ years as a potter.
His studio has become a destination in itself.
Donn and his staff make about 10,000 pieces a year.
Visitors can step into Donn's studio and watch him work on the wheel.
Donn knew from his first experience with clay that it was what he wanted to do.
I love the tactile quality of clay. The greatest enjoyment comes when I realize that someone else enjoys my work enough to include it in their lives and homes.
He skipped classes at the former Hamilton Collegiate in Hamilton to work on his wheel and was not deterred by anyone who said potters were a starving artist.
The College of Art in Toronto turned Donn down because he didn't have enough high school art courses. But on his way home that day he saw a sign that said Sheridan College School of Design.
He pulled off the Queen Elizabeth Way and became a student.
For the three years that Donn was a student at Sheridan, he received a scholarship from the Hamilton Artisans Guild. So impressed was the Guild that they supported Donn through out his studies there.
Donn loading the updraft Kiln at Sheridan in 1967. Donn was the Pottery Technician at Sheridan for 3 years.
Donn loading the Salt Firing Kiln at Sheridan in 1967.
Donn Studies and teaches at Penland School of Crafts
After concluding his studies at Sheridan, Donn received a scholarship from the Ontario Crafts Council to study at the prestigious Penland School of Crafts.
A few years after his studies there Donn became the first Canadian Potter to teach at this internationally known School.
His time there was spent sharpening his skills.
Learning from some of Americas best potters such as Cynthia Bringle, John Glick, Bob Turner, and Paulus Berensohn.
Over the years Donn has continued his relationship with Penland visiting his Mentor Cynthia Bringle.
Donn with Mentor Cynthia Bringle.
Penland School of Craft in Penland, NC
Donn with Mentor Cynthia Bringle.
Donn doing a demonstration at Mohawk College for his students.
After returning to Canada in 1971, Donn was asked to establish the Pottery Course at Mohawk College. After one year, with the assistance of Vera Bellingham and Bodil Pearson, the course had 152 students.
With Donn's senior students, they built the first Gas Fired Kiln in Hamilton.
In the next year, 1972 Donn operated a co-op studio outside of Dundas Ontario with potter Bodil Pearson and weaver Fran Wong. Here he also taught at the Valley School of Art and built their first Gas Kiln in 1972. During his time in Dundas Donn had his first Solo Exhibition of his work at the Canadian Guild of Potters Gallery in Toronto.
Two pieces included in Donn's Exhibition at the Canadian Guild of Potters.
When Donn's grandfather passed away, Donn moved to the Family's farm in Troy, Ontario. There, with the help of his father he built his first studio. He worked to establish his line of pottery and developed his market.
Donn working on Slab Boxes at his studio on the family farm.
Donn's first Apprentices, Elaine and Kim.
Donn finishing the handle on a jug.
It was not until he bought the property in 1980 on highway 5 in the village of Troy that Donn truly left his art teacher's warning behind. Now Donn greets more than 25,000 people a year at his studio. He restored the 1935 garage on the property and opened his studio and gallery in 1982. He also restored a home on the property built in 1861.
Dunn's Garage pictured in 1935 was bought by Donn in 1980. Over the next two years Donn restored the building for his new Studio.
Restoration of the building took 2 years.
The studio as it appears today 2016.
The studio continued to grow and develop, but for Donn this was not enough, he still believed that his business skills could be challenged. So in 1996 he built Cafe Troy. The Cafe and Pottery went hand in hand as Donn used his pottery in the Cafe which was a great benefit to the businesses.
The Cafe helped to drive the Pottery Business. The restaurant developed a reputation of quality local Food, including winning Restaurant of the Year for the City of Hamilton.
In the time honoured traditions of the Artisan, Donn is committed to nurturing apprentices. They stay with him for three to six years before spreading their wings.
"It's more important now that Colleges are cutting back on the Arts in favour of technology."
Glenn Gagnier worked with Donn in the mid 1980's.
Victor Duffues worked with Donn in the early 1990's. With his wife, Jose, he operates JoVic Pottery in Ladysmith, BC.
Donn's studio assistant, Tamara, she has worked with Donn for 25 years.
Nancy Redwood is an accomplished Potter who assists Donn in making and finishing the Studio productions.
Shawn Marshall is a new apprentice who began his journey in Pottery at the Studio in March of 2021.
Donn Calls his Pottery Evolutionary.
He has always favoured rich, earthy tones even during the pastel craze of the '70s.
The business end of things comes naturally if you are in touch with the customers.
- says Donn, who greets longtime customers with a hug.