Expanding the pottery scope

Nathan Liewicki
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Dietrich to display works at Alberta Gift Fair

Zach Dietrich and Wendy Parsons is a powerhouse, pottery-making couple.

Wendy Parsons of Parsons Dietrich Pottery works on a sculptural piece of craftsmanship. Parsons' husband Zach Dietrich will showcase samples of the couple's pottery works Feb. 16-19 at the Alberta Gift Fair in Edmonton.

Having moved to Moose Jaw 1980 after Parsons was hired on a one-year contract to be the resident artist, the couple has been here ever since. And they have not stopped making pottery in their 34 years in the Friendly City.

“I do mostly wheel-throwing and Wendy does mostly slab building,” said Dietrich. “She does a lot of figures, like people and animals and I do mostly bowls, platters, mugs and tea pots.”

They’ve been operating Parsons Dietrich Pottery throughout their tenure in Moose Jaw out of what was formerly a United Church along the Prairie Oasis service road.

Before they rented and eventually purchased the old church, Dietrich said there was a business there that taught pottery and weaving.

He produces more functional pottery, whereas Parsons creates more sculptural works. Sometimes, however, they combine their efforts.

“I'll make, for example, a big cookie jar and she will turn it into a monster cookie jar,” he told the Times-Herald. “She'll add all the features of a monster to it.”

Pieces of the couple’s pottery creations will be on display Feb. 16-19 in Edmonton at the Alberta Gift Fair.

Dietrich is headed to the Alberta capital for one of Canada’s largest wholesale gift shows, while Parsons will remain in Moose Jaw.

There are, however, five other Saskatchewan craft artists that will be joining Dietrich in Edmonton, including people from Regina, Saskatoon and Maple Creek.

This year marks the fourth time the Saskatchewan Craft Council (SCC) has featured Saskatchewan craft artists at the Alberta Gift Fair, but for Dietrich it will be his first appearance there.

“The craft council put out a notice saying that anyone interested could participate, so we decided that it would be good for us to try to market out-of-province,” he said. “We thought it was a good opportunity for us to do this show.”

Opportunities to have contact with different retailers from Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories was another reason Dietrich and Parsons opted to pursue the trip to Edmonton.

“It is a very good move by the SCC to schedule Saskatchewan craft people to go to this because it gets our work out there into a broader market,” said Dietrich.

He added that being situated in Moose Jaw, the couple’s business gets a lot of customers from outside the province, and that he often hears from out-of-province people that Saskatchewan has the best pottery at the cheapest prices.

“There are a lot of potters in Saskatchewan and there are a lot of crafts people and artists,” he said. “If they don't get their work shown out of province nobody really gets to see it.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Alberta Gift Fair, SCC, United Church Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Edmonton Friendly Alberta Canada Regina Saskatoon Maple Creek British Columbia Yukon Northwest Territories

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