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Transforming clay makes potter’s day

Jeffrey Taylor has given up his part-time job to focus on his art career as well as mentoring students. | Brenda Cardiff photo

After 13 years, pottery artist Jeffrey Taylor plans to give up his part-time job as a bus driver.

He took on the job to earn extra cash after he began working out of the 85-year-old schoolhouse-turned-studio in Duval, Sask.

“I can’t make pottery for eight hours a day and driving bus at 3 p.m. breaks up my day.

“It gives me a good built-in schedule,” he said. “(But) the pottery is at the point where I can’t (drive anymore).”

Taylor enjoys making unique pieces.

“I try not to repeat the exact same pattern on everything. They’re something that people that can enjoy and gift,” he said.

“That encourages me that I’m doing something worthwhile and has meaning.”

Taylor is usually in the studio by 9 a.m. where he begins the project of the day. He prepares the clay and makes and trims as many as 40 bowls in two days, but it takes a week and a half to finish all of them.

Taylor is influenced by the prairie landscape.

“It’s a subconscious thing I guess. It echoes the prairie.”

He began his career in pottery in his teens by taking some ceramics courses in Caronport, Sask.

After attending art school in Red Deer, Taylor moved to Vancouver, then later sought inexpensive property to set up his own studio.

Friends in Duval suggested the old schoolhouse, which was sitting empty.

“I’ve always enjoyed old character buildings … and I was looking for something like that, (the) school was perfect for that,” he said.

Jeffrey and his wife, Nadia, host two open houses each year at the schoolhouse, which doubles as the family home.

Taylor sells his work from the home studio, Traditions Handcraft Gallery in Regina, Handmade House and SaskMade Marketplace in Saskatoon and Art Concepts Custom Framing in Estevan, Sask.

Theresa Fuhr, owner of Art Concepts, noted the high quality of his glazing and called the pieces in his canola rust and autumn harvest series unique but related by colour.

“They’re very earthy,” she said.

Fuhr said many are purchased by women as gifts for other women, citing the popularity of dip plates.

“It’s something they’d not buy for themselves,” she said. “It’s special.”

As part of Canadian Artists Representation/le front des artistes canadiens (Saskatchewan), Taylor is men-toring a potter-artist.

Edie Marshall, program co-ordinator for CARFAC in Regina, said the group provides funding to guide and help emerging artists perfect their skills.

“(Taylor’s) quality is excellent, his work is great,” she said of the reasons a juried panel chose him to mentor.

“We felt Jeffrey had something to offer and could help her.”

The program requires spending seven hours a month with a group of eight other mentors and nine students, said Taylor.

“It was humbling just to think, to realize that I’m at that point in my career that I do have a lot to offer. Hopefully, I have a lot to learn from the experience as well,” he said.

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