Rebecca Hillman is a studio potter who lives with her husband and dog in Scarborough, Maine.
She uses both wheel-thrown or hand-building skills, to create her figurative sometimes functional works - which vary greatly depending on the type of clay, firing, and design.
Some of her biggest influences, teachers, and mentors include: Kit Cornell, Patti Warashina, Carol Gouthro, Tim Christiansen, James Tisdale, Jessica Brandl, Chandra Debuse, Julie Cunningham, Lynn Duryea, Annette Gates, Al Yeager, Chris Archer, Steve Zoldak, Maureen Mills, and Andy Hampton - all of whom helped her to establish a strong foundation of skills and encouraged her to pursue her passion for clay.
She enjoys using different clay bodies and trying different firing techniques, ranging from low fire Cone 04 to Cone 6... up to Cone 10, and occasionally gets to wood fire.
Inspired by nature, she has a passion for flowers and gardens, the female figure, and animals. She often pulls images from childhood memories growing up by the ocean, especially spending summer months on the back shores of Orr's Island, Maine.
Rebecca was born and raised in Framingham, MA. In the sixties and seventies she attended public schools, spending every moment she could in the art room. In Art class, she remembers helping light a makeshift Raku kiln in the high school parking lot and another time, being offered very sharp, two-foot-long chisels to help carve a totem pole out of a tree.
Being in the Art room exposed her to loading the gas kiln, enamel work, weaving, drawing, printing, painting and silversmithing. She would often opt to cook a recipe or create an art piece in place of class projects and book reports. She sensed she found voice and felt joy in the making process. This creative exploration and willingness to just try something new, was where she felt most connected and nurtured her sense of self.
In 1981, she enrolled at UCSB, for Art History. But after being put through her paces at a local restaurant sheaquired the focus and inspiration to learn all she could about the business and ended up enrolling in not one, but on to two, culinary schools.
Chef back to clay (her story)
One weekend, deep into her Chef career she found herself at a Farmers' Market. She turned and saw pottery being sold on display in the sunshine. Her heart started literally pounding. At first, she didn't know what was happening. Seeing the glazes sparkle, the forgotten memories some twenty five years hidden had all flooded to the surface. It was Joy! She realized it wasn't a heart attack. She was experiencing pure Joy remembering her love for clay. She excitedly spoke to the potter, her name was, Kit Cornell. Kit had her sign her name in a book she kept for interested, potential students and said she'd give her a call if and when she had an opening in her class.
That was that!
Almost a year went by...
Then, one day, Rebecca was home alone, It just happened to be her fortieth birthday.
The phone rang. It was Kit! She had an opening, and only allowed four students total. Rebecca knew she had to take this leap and say she would be there.
The fact that she called out of the blue on her birthday...it was a sign!
For four years, every Tuesday at 5:15, Rebecca told her line cooks and staff she was out of the kitchen. It didn't take long to dream about the idea of one day being a potter. Kit with out hesitation took her seriously. She was hooked.
Within three years, she was encouraged to join the vibrant and supportive New Hampshire Potters Guild.
Later, with the help of four potter friends, they created "Five Potters Co-Op".
During those early years, she sold at Newmarket Heritage Festival and went on to show works at various venues and holiday events, The NH Potters Market, and in other locations mainly around York, Portsmouth, Exeter and Kittery Point, ME.
Eventually, Kit asked her to be an assistant in her studio. With Kit's instruction and then branching out working alongside several other potters, she established a strong enough foundation for her skills to start a studio in her own home. One amazing memory is of helping in the process of relocating the New Hampshire Potters Guild Community Wood Firing Kiln, which is currently located in Deerfield, NH.
Since 2019, Rebecca participates in the Maine Pottery Tour, continues to give occasional sculpting workshops at Portland Pottery and teach classes in the new Clay Room @ Piper Shores Retirement Community in Scarborough, ME.
She continues to further her skills at a few workshops a year. Most recently at Snow Farm in Williamstown, MA. Arrowmont in Gaitlinburg, TN. Watershed in Newcastle, ME. and upcoming North Country Workshops at Bennington College this coming 2020.
Kit & Rebecca
"The studio is like a sacred space, where I can hear and enter into that conversation with clay...a place where I feel I'm still cooking, except this time every recipe happens to have clay in it."
Soda Firing, Watershed, 2017
Maine Craft Association Weekend
Community Kiln - Deerfield, ME
NH Potters Guild
Culinary Institute of Art, Hyde Park, NY, Associates Degree, 1986, (graduated with honors)
SBCC, Hospitality Restaurant Management Program, Santa Barbara, CA, Associates Degree, 1986, (graduated with honors)
University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, Art History, 1981 (attended)