October 2009
Featured Gallery
of the Month
Timber Ridge Studios
Of Ronni Gourlay
By Alice Bell
CDHM Asst Editor

Photos courtesy of
Ronni Gourlay
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios

CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios All Veronica (Ronni) Gourlay wants out of life is to learn to master all the tools she's acquired.

"Before I find more of them that intrigue me!!" she adds with a laugh.

Her crafting life to this point has covered a lot of ground and included a lot of tools, so that is no easy wish to fulfil.

This mother of five, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of 3 likes to be busy.

"I have so many interests that there just isn't enough time to enjoy them all. Spending time with my family is always at the top of the list and I like to find time for reading, sewing, baking breads, creative writing, photography, genealogy research and travel," she listed.

At the tender age of five she received her first dollhouse, a "two-story, no inner walls, handmade house filled with mostly homemade pieces not always to scale" built by her parents.

To scale or not to scale continues to be a question in her crafting life.

"I've found people don't always check to see the size of things when they order them. I had some crushed pink seashells, sold by the teaspoon, to use in mini settings. One lady called to order a truckload - please deliver to her driveway as soon as possible. Another one wanted 100 of my coffee mugs for a breakfast she was planning for her organization - until I pointed out that they were only 3/8" high!"

From her childhood in rural Nebraska to her current home on a wooded hilltop in rural Missouri, Ronni still appreciates the natural beauty of the great out of doors and likes to include natural elements whenever possible.

"I work mostly in porcelain. But I love making things from natural materials: seashell arrangements, wood, pinecones, grasses, etc. Most of my things are in 1:12 scale, but some are small enough to be used in 1:24 settings," she said.CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios

"I started doing ceramics over 30 years ago, specializing in selling wildlife and tea sets (full size and children's) to gift shops. As time went on, I made tea sets smaller and smaller. When I started making things to scale, I turned to porcelain. I can make things much more delicate, smaller, and thinner with porcelain. I have only been working in porcelain miniatures for a couple of years."

Her works are now sold on her website-Timber Ridge and on for between $5 and $15. Her studio is in the basement of her house, featuring a front wall made completely of windows, and houses her kiln, lathe and porcelain molds. At first it only encompassed the first half of the room, but now she says she has taken over the back half as well.

"My art would take an altogether different form if I didn't have my kiln. In fact, I just got my new kiln last week. It is versatile enough to do everything from glass work to porcelain and can fire a decal on glass without distorting it or heat to over 2300 degrees, which is needed for porcelain," she explained.

She is still learning about the intricacies of working with porcelain and spends a good deal of time creating the perfect molds.

"My husband keeps me supplied in the wood pieces for my creations and makes the blanks for the molds I plan to make in the near future. He takes the measurements of a full size piece, divides by 12 and adds 16% for the shrinkage that occurs when porcelain is fired in the kiln. Then he makes the piece to that exact dimension on the lathe out of plastic. Without that I couldn't make the mold to scale.

"The most difficult thing I am dealing with right now is learning to make quality master molds so I can make things in porcelain to scale. There are very few good molds available for the miniaturist," she said.

Canisters, planters, plant stands and different dishes are on her to-be-created list.

CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios

"I am making decals for my use, but haven't perfected it to the point where I can sell them for others to apply. They are very touchy made with an inkjet printer. I think a laser printer would probably solve the problem."

Also on her future list is turning some of the photos she has taken over the years into miniature accessory pieces, framed art and decals.

"And I really want to get into doing glasswork in miniature, now that I have a kiln that will handle it. And I would love to have time to learn to use my lathe better, so I could make some of my own pieces out of walnut and cherry," she added.

"But I really have no future goals as far as my art is concerned. I enjoy all the people I have met and the friends I have made from around the world through my website. Often they share with me how they are going to use the piece they are buying. I have received invitations from customers I have never met in person to visit in their homes, here in the states and as far away as Scotland! What more could I ask of something I have so much fun doing!"

Explore Ronni Gourlay's Ceramics, Pottery and Turnings here on CDHM.

Explore the other Glass, Pottery, and Figurines Artisan Galleries.

CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios
CDHM artisan Ronni Gourlay of Timber Ridge Studios

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