Crawford Bay artisan combines passions in Moonrakings Clay Art

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Crawford Bay artisan Jacqueline Wedge in her Highway 3A studio.

To anyone looking at Jacqueline Wedge’s art, her love of the natural world is easily evident, with sunbeams, leaves and animals prominent on many pieces.

“A lot of my art is nature-based,” said Wedge. “A lot of my symbolism and what inspires me is nature. … My friends say, ‘Hey, you bridged all of your passions into one.”

Music is in the mix, as well — Wedge teaches music at Crawford Bay Elementary Secondary School — with notes and piano keys on bowls and mugs.

She keeps, as she says, “many eggs in many baskets,” but her passion for working with clay led to Moonrakings Clay Art, located with other artisans at 16095 Highway 3A in Crawford Bay.

“Pottery is my love and I tend to want to research it,” said Wedge. “I don’t look on Pinterest — I have 8,000 ideas in my head.”

Some of Wedge’s earliest artistic endeavours included posters for her mom’s community events — “She was a chronic volunteer, as I am now” — and place cards for a math teacher’s wedding. She tried her hand at pottery in high school in her hometown of Fredericton, N.B., but didn’t become obsessed until later.

Along the way, Wedge studied art history in Ottawa, with the goal of becoming a “crazy art gallery cat lady” while earning a PhD. But a job tree planting in B.C. changed her plans.

“I fell in love with the mountains,” she said. “I fell in love with the people. I found my tribe.”

She lived in Victoria from 1993-1995, where she rediscovered clay, spending $25 a day to play and learn in a Fan Tan Alley studio.

“How can you not like clay? It’s so soft and wonderful and malleable.”

In 1995, she bought a homestead in Crawford Bay, which she used as a home base while living in Rossland while learning to weave. But clay kept calling, leading her to classes at the Kootenay School of the Arts (now part of Selkirk College in Nelson), and eventually to starting Crawford Bay’s Dog Patch Pottery with Lea Belcourt in 2001.

Wedge ended up leaving Dog Patch to work from her own home studio, where she keeps her connection to technology to a minimum — her kiln and wheel are electric, and that’s pretty much it.

“I’ve branded myself by staying away from technology,” she said. “I’m not a Luddite — I’m a Luddite wannabe.”

For years, Wedge sold her work only at craft fairs, but moved into the highway studio last year, becoming part of a co-operative that includes the Kootenay Forge, Fireworks Copper and Glass and a Norse artisan.

She enjoys having a close connection to others in the strong Crawford Bay arts community, collaborating on items such as soap dishes and bowls for spinning yarn.

But nothing beats her “safe space”, her home studio where she can relax and get her hands dirty — the true sign of a potter.

“I go into my studio, and my shoulders go down, and I just… create.”