Rosemary Jenkins artist extraordinaire

by jon vanbilsen

Rosemary, showing off some of her designs in her studio

Rosemary, showing off some of her designs in her studio

CONNECT NORTH is a quarterly magazine celebrating the attributes of North Durham. This is a reprint of a a regular column by Jonathan van Bilsen
A regular feature in Connect North will be an in-depth look at a local artist, and what better showcase for our inaugural issue, than highlighting the Port Perry Studio Tour and one of its participants, Rosemary Jenkins.

The first weekend in May is always an exciting time in Port Perry, for the town’s artist community open their doors to hundreds of visitors. Glass makers and potters, photographers and painters, woodworkers and metallurgists are among some of the 31 artists that will be featured at 11 different sites throughout Port Perry.

The Port Perry Studio Tour is self-guided in that you visit your favourite artists at your own pace. Visit as many as you wish, with no admission fee. Join the creative journey and share the joy and beauty of finely crafted art pieces, on display and for sale.

One of this year’s newest tour members is Rosemary Jenkins, a potter, who specializes in customized pieces inspired by functionality, creativity and necessity.

In her studio, on the outskirts of Port Perry, Rosemary has been creating beautiful stoneware for nearly a decade. She handpicks clay from local and distant suppliers to ensure that it is of the best quality with no imperfections. Rosemary hand builds or turns on a wheel, items which range from bowls, cups and vases to butter dishes and her signature piece, a canoe. These will all be on display in her studio and will be viewable during the studio tour at 8 Rose St. in Manchester (just outside of Port Perry).

Once Rosemary has envisioned how the end product will look, she ‘throws’ the clay onto a wheel and begins to turn it into the shape she desires. From there it takes a day to dry and, in the case of a mug or bowl, the handles are affixed on the second day. The next step is to bisque fire the item for 7 to 8 hours in a kiln at 1800°. Along the way, Rosemary applies slips and stains, carvings, stampings and adding to or altering the clay.

The second stage of the artistic process, which is glazing, by dipping, pouring, spraying or brushing various colours onto the earthenware, is next. After completion and Rosemary is pleased with the direction in which the piece is going, it is fired once again in her kiln at a temperature of 2200° for 12 hours. The final stage is to let the article cool for the better part of a day.

Some of the unique items in Rosemary’s collection, including her signature piece ‘the Canoe’.

Some of the unique items in Rosemary’s collection, including her signature piece ‘the Canoe’.

Not all pieces turn out the way they are supposed to, mostly due to flaws in the clay, even after careful inspection beforehand. This of course is very frustrating, and there is no alternative but to discard the piece.

Most of the items Rosemary creates are founded in common sense. The butter dish has a practical lid. The beverage mugs have handles which are very easy to grasp. Items such as the canoe, used for condiments, comes complete with spoons in the shape of paddles.

Pottery is an art which can only be perfected over time, with careful consideration to detail and vision. Rosemary Jenkins has certainly mastered her craft and a visit to see her work during the Port Perry studio tour is well worth the trip. Visit her website at rosemaryjenkinspottery.ca.

The picturesque, Victorian town of Port Perry is nestled on the shores of Lake Scugog in North Durham. The many restaurants and shops open their doors to welcome patrons visiting the studio tour, making the adventure enjoyable for everyone. It is a fantastic way to spend a beautiful spring weekend.

Studio tours brochures are available at most retail locations and all information can be found online at scugogstudiotour.ca.

Follow Jonathan van Bilsen’s travels and adventures at photosNtravel.com

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