Antonia Gijsbers was born in the Netherlands in 1943. She was the last child born in a family of 5, 3 sisters and 1 brother. Her parents were merchants.
In 1963 she married John and immigrated
to Canada with their two sons. The call of the
north beckoned them. With their two sons and
now one daughter they moved to Commanda Lake.
They purchased a tourist resort and it became Rockcliffe cottages, named after the large rock overlooking the lake on their property. Tony choose the medium of stoneware for her works.
“I became a production potter inspired by the ceramic artist Micheal Casin, from England, who visited
while I was still at Canadore College.
I loved his forms, functional works and the reduction process of his finished pottery.
He was so generous with his knowledge,
A real nice down to earth gentleman.
Right after college we opened up my first studio
called Rockcliffe Pottery in 1981.
I am a person who always loved to make things.
The medium of clay is my driving force,
rather than a concept or idea.
Clay allows you so much freedom, it is very forgiving, you can add and subtract from it, and form it into
something from nothing.
I am definitely one who thrives in a production environment,
it is so rewarding and I feel a sense of accomplishment.
When I am working with clay, I am at peace and instant calm. It is where I run too when I need to relax,
or clear my mind.
This is my favourite part of the process of
making pottery. It is a passion. Every piece is unique.
I have always been drawn to natural colours, inspired by my surrounding. My first glaze was a tan glaze in which I took clay from my backyard and makes a nice tan colour.
True to my character, I like to move, and never in a delicate way. I enjoy dipping, pouring and splashing glazes on my pots as an expression of who I am. The way I move as a person creating a variety of patterns, I call art.
In the process of fireing pots, I get excited and anxious to see the pottery completed and what the kiln will produce with spontaneously movement of the fire to the glazes.
The first studio opened in 1981 in what was their former garage. Humble beginnings, and when the studio started falling apart, it was a good time to build a new studio.
Tony’s life long dream of owning a craft shop since she was 12 years old became a reality when they expanded their new studio to include a gift shop.
Thus in 1987 Rockcliffe Pottery and Craft Shop was completed. A year later John retired from his trade
to work full-time in the studio as what
he would say; “I’m the Side Kick” .
In 2011, we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with the creation of the book Rockcliffe Pottery 30 years in the Making. In 2017, we celebrate our 36th anniversary.
Currently I have no plans to retire
from my works in Canada.
I continue to be passionate about working
with clay and keep pursuing my work
as long as I am able.
I enjoy making more one of a kindpieces now that I have the creative freedom
and ability to do so.