While many know of Eastend’s claim to fame as the place where Scotty the T-Rex dinosaur was found, a possible lesser-known fact is that Eastend is also home to an ever-growing artisan community. A place where writer’s, painters, photographers, mixed media and other artists, seem to be drawn, as if by an unseen force.
Two such artists are potters Stephen Girard and Shon Profit, and so effusive was the praise lavished upon them by a friend of mine, that I knew I just had to see their studio for myself.
Named Whitemud Clay Studio, for the white mud that surrounds Eastend, in and among the hills, hand won (dug) by Stephen himself, the work they’re creating there is simply stunning. But what struck me more so than even the beauty of their pottery, was the total air of openness and trust the owners exhibit to all who walk in their doors – even when they’re not around.
While the name “Pottery Street” right in the address should have clued me in to its location, I got a little lost, but eventually did find it, right there on Pottery Street as advertised.
Tentatively walking into the studio, not even sure if they were open as it was late in the fall, long past tourist season, I found the building seemingly empty of people, but filled with hundreds of tiles laid out on the floor of the studio (the beginnings, I soon learned, of what would become the new Mural for the Swift Current Museum – a total of 300 tiles created and finished by hand).
Then in walked Stephen and a friend, who together were working on installing a new kiln in another part of the studio. Too busy to stop and chat for too long, they nevertheless welcomed me to come in, have a look around at my leisure, and if I saw anything I liked that I wanted to purchase, to simply take it over to the door marked “Office” to pay for it.
Browsing the pottery available, it was hard to decide from so many unique and beautiful pieces, all of which had the added bonus of being reasonably priced. Eventually, I decided upon this beautiful conical shaped bowl. Warm in colour and beauty, it gave me a happy feeling just to hold it.
Now came the fun part of paying for it. With the price clearly seen on the sticker, I headed over to the Office expecting to meet someone who would take my cash, only to find a sign instead. On it, was written instructions of how I could leave cash, a cheque or failing to have either at the time of purchase I could take my piece home, and simply mail them a cheque at my leisure! (Gotta love it! Only in small town Saskatchewan!).
Having the cash in hand, I followed the instructions to the letter, including the ones that helped me to figure out the GST/PST I owed, rang my purchase into the till, and removed my change before closing it up. Talk about trust.
This then, is truly one of the many benefits of shopping in a small town. Not only will you get one of a kind pieces, made from products that are often sourced locally as is the case with the white mud my own piece was made with.
But you also get a level of trust and belief in mankind, you just won’t find anywhere else.
Trust me, it was worth the trip to Eastend, just to experience that alone.
How to Get There:
With Pottery right in the name, it’s not really that hard to find, (unless you’re me), simply head North off of the Town of Eastend’s main drag till you hit Pottery Street, and you’ll eventually run into it (and spy many other galleries and interesting looking shops along the way).
It’s official address is: 505 Pottery Street. Here’s a map to make Eastend itself easier for you to find from Swift Current, if you’ve never been there. And if coming from Cypress Hills on a day trip, you can follow this map instead.
What to Bring:
Apparently you don’t even need to bring money when you shop at Whitemud Clay Studio! So, just bring a keen eye for beauty and a sense of wonder.
When Not to Visit:
Judging from their open door policy, and their trust in people to do the right thing when it comes to paying for their purchases, I’m going to assume there really isn’t a time that they find it necessary to close, so I’m pretty sure (actually 100% sure) they’re open year round.
The Studio has a public bathroom available to use – but not having had to go myself at the time, I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything about it’s appearance.
Good to know:
For those with kids, there are LOTS of potential breakables in here. I’m sure they welcome kids…you just might not want to bring them. Especially if they’re the kind of kids that are “motivated for fun.”
Who to Contact:
Stephen Girard & Shon Profit: (306) 295-3707
Visit them here to see a small gallery of some of their amazing wares: http://www.eastend-sask.com/white-mud1.html