Donna Trickey was dreaming of baby number five when a gentle push from husband Glenn kindled a different kind of love.
“I wanted to have more babies and my husband said, ‘Don't be ridiculous, we have four kids'. And I went, 'Well, I think I need a hobby'," Donna said.
For the first time since high school, the former McGuire College student found herself behind the pottery wheel.
“Now I make pots instead of babies,” she said.
“I've always liked making things. It's messy and that's how I am, I've always been a hands-on, tactile sort of person — I used to be a massage therapist.
“I like to paint but I think I've always thought my paintings weren't necessarily canvas-worthy paintings, I just kind of do dorky little illustrations.”
That was about three years ago.
Now, when the Kialla mum is not running around after Roy, 10, Pia, 8, Mae, 6 and Willa, 5, she can be found in her garden shed studio.
“Because I've got all the kids around me there's not a lot of free thinking, you can't really let your mind wander, maybe you do but it's just interrupted all the time,” Donna said.
“It's really therapeutic, you're very in the moment when you work with clay. You really can only focus on what is happening right there and then in you hands. You're not thinking about anything else, because if you do you'll stuff up what you're making.
“Now my husband says, `Do you need to play with clay?’ when I'm really angry.
“If I have a little bit of time away and do those things I feel like I'm better for them because I'm less cranky.”
Listening to old-school rock and roll and singing off-key as she works, the musical influence seeps into Donna's craft.
Throwing ceramic tumblers, planters, keep cups and sushi dishes, she collages and paints quirky designs and puns.
Donna describes her paintings as bright and chaotic but they perfectly blend her passions of pottery and music.
“When you have kids you just stop doing the things that you normally do — and listening to music was one of them, because you're just singing nursery rhymes and watching Wiggles,” she said.
“I'd just start to get these funny little images in my head from some lyrics and so then sometimes I'll just write a little note somewhere, I'll do a drawing or I'll just remember it.”
Donna's Tough Cookie character was inspired by a childhood love of Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot — incorporating the album cover and an imaginative take on the first line "Well you're a real tough cookie with a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me".
Creating under the name Muddy Mitts, Donna sells her creations on Etsy.com — but it took time to find the courage to take that step.
“I still kind of feel like it's really just a hobby a lot of the time,” she said.
“I used to just give them as gifts and it took a while before I was confident that it was a worthy gift.
“I was really self-conscious; I still feel funny when I'm thinking `I can't believe people are going to see these pictures'.”
Long after leaving work to have her first child, Donna said Muddy Mitts had helped her regain a part of herself.
“It's a strange feeling when you're just at home all time, even though we all play our role. It is funny to have your independence taken like that; you get a confidence in having the kids but then a whole other type self-consciousness,” she said.
“The kids are proud. I like that they can see that I've learned something new, even when I'm older, and the fact that I often remind them look how crap I used to be at this and I kept on practising and I got better at it.
“I think everyone needs to learn that it's all right to suck at something for a while, and eventually you'll get good at it.”
To see more of Donna's work follow @madebymuddymitt on Instagram.
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