Marge Foley-Jacob: Founder’s Interview

In 2015, the SCC is celebrating its 40th anniversary. In 1975, fifty-seven Saskatchewan artisans organized themselves into a determined force with a single voice and a common purpose. That purpose was to promote and raise the profile of Saskatchewan artisans, improve the quality of work produced, and facilitate communication among the membership. Each of these people donated just $5 to this cause and the Saskatchewan Craft Council was born. You can read more about our history here.

Our board members and staff have come together to conduct interviews with as many of these founding members as we can, in celebration of this milestone. We are interested in these founders’ thoughts around why we came into being and their insights for the future.

Marge Foley-Jacob

What compelled you to throw your $5 and yourself into creating a new organization dedicated to supporting craft?

After a time of blankness in my thinking in regard to why I became a member of the SCC forty years ago, I thought about my own journey to becoming a potter. And surprise, surprise, it all flooded back.  What a beautiful memory it was.

For me, the seed was planted early in the ‘60s when I was a young teacher, newly released from Teacher’s College. I was teaching Grade One in Brooks, Alberta. There was a small craft club in the town and a lovely person who had a potter’s wheel and an idea of how to centre a lump of clay.

I had no idea or information as to pottery or clay or spinning potters wheels, but that seed was a doozy. It lay dormant until the late ‘60s, when returning to Saskatoon, the pottery teachers appeared. The Mendel Potters Club, Doris Tweddel , then on to Fort San and the amazing Folmer Hanson and David
Ross, as well as Jim Thornsbury at the U of S.

After my pottery education, I taught pottery classes in Saskatoon and from acquaintances I made, friendships were formed and supporters of the crafts were realized. Many of those friends became successful artists and craftspeople. Ideas blossomed, friends Carol Sanderson and Gale Steck had a dream of opening a craft shop and selling Saskatchewan made crafts, theirs and others. Handmade House, a craft cooperative, was born. Other cooperatives, like the Shoestring Gallery (now AKA Artist Run), invited craftspeople into their fold.

Jim Thornsbury called together a group and Sundog was formed, and later, further needs produced the Artisan Craft Fair. Other Craft Fairs sprang up throughout the province at this time.

The seventies rocked… Sam Mark and Louise saw the need and created Tree, a pottery supply
store. Jewellers, woodworkers, fibre artists, weavers, spinners, dyers, and potters spread out over the Saskatchewan countryside, creating studios in churches and on farms and acreages. They were exciting times.

The government of the day saw value in the arts and culture and gave support to these small businesses.
Then there was the need to coordinate this craft group to allow for better communication between craftspeople. To get the word out on workshops and to help craftspeople show their skill to the rest of the world. The Saskatchewan Craft Council was born. We attended The World Craft Council in Japan in 1978. Friendships were developed there and galleries opened to Saskatchewan artisans. Each one of us has a story of when the seed was formed, when it was planted, and who watered it. The formation of the SCC and its 40 year history comes from our stories and our seeds that others will continue to plant and grow and it will be all of the stories woven together.

Thank you for asking. I loved the trip.