When Jack Taylor found a high school pottery class in the late 1960’s, it literally saved his life. Taylor had dropped out of school due to drug use. While struggling without much direction, he finally realized that completing high school would be necessary if he wanted to make something out of his life. Upon going back to his school in order to graduate by 1970, there were two things that awakened his focus – pottery and yoga.
At first it was just an elective class to try, but Taylor explained that forming art with clay opened an entire world of creativity into his life. He went on to maintain his creative talents by making a living as a remodeling contractor, using his woodworking skills in the Hawthorne area before moving to Fernley. While his wife, Geri was a speech therapist within the Mineral County School District for three years, he was expanding his skills to include blacksmithing, welding and the development of varying pottery skills.
“Even though we followed the work north of here and moved away, we were finally able to plan a retirement home back in Walker Lake, which included building my man cave. It was my dream to have an artist studio, with all the equipment in one place and friends or students coming into an atmosphere of co-oping our talents. This is the fulfillment of my bucket list,” Taylor admitted.
Accomplishing this dream included a residence on one lot and his cabin-styled designed studio next door. Greeted by the “Cattails Studio” sign, an outdoor salt kiln, that was hand-built, sits as a primitive brick site within a securely covered enclosure. An outdoor ground pit is used in the fall, creating another firing process that takes months to prepare and a lengthy three-day process to complete. The Raku style of firing is another process used at the studio, as well as the two indoor electric standard kilns. Locals help in every firing, as well as some world renowned artists, which come in from out of the area to participate in the co-op community environment.
Taylor confessed a personal wish to see Walker Lake form sort of a known artist colony, as the small town is already filled with so many professional talents of glass creators, welding talents, photographers and painters such as his wife, graphic artists, fabric artists and so many more. “This has all the beginnings of a hamlet of artists, creating and inspiring one another,” Taylor shared.
As his 33 year old son, Joe Taylor, said, “My dad loves to bring people together. He was always the cool dad that had the neighborhood kids get involved in racing mountain bikes. He started Reno’s Junior Wheelman and he really reached out to the kids that needed help or just needed a guy around them. Even now my friends love to come out here and hang out.”
With a background in doing pottery demos for kids, calling it “play with clay”, Taylor offers up his ability to teach others the art of various creative endeavors. It was a television show that showed people in France co-oping their talents which developed the idea of his own studio dream and yet Taylor sees this as only the beginning. Now retired, Taylor shared that the ability of developing and expanding into new artistic territory can only get better, especially as he networks into meeting other talented people within the community.
“Now that I have more time, I want to give back and offer my experience to share with others. It is such a high to watch people create and make up our own glazes, then fire the pieces here. When a custom piece comes out, no two will ever be the same. It is unique by your own creation, firing and sometimes luck, which is the fun part of doing it. It is like experimenting in fun.”
Taylor’s art is cataloged and photographed by his wife Geri. They can be contacted by calling 775-233-9080 for further information and to obtain the custom giftware.