Convention font echo land and utilize naturally grown, locally sourced materials

The Font for the 2019 ELCIC National Convention was designed by artist Jeffrey Taylor, Newschool Arts, Duval, Saskatchewan.

“I am very proud to have been asked to create this baptismal font,” says Jeffrey. “It was one of those serendipitous God occurrences when the Rev. Patricia Simonson asked me if I could make a bowl for the font, and also inquired if I would be interested in making the base as well.”

The original idea was to have the base constructed out of reclaimed elevator timbers. “We sat and talked about the project at my table, which happened to be made from reclaimed elevator lumber, and I grew excited about taking on the task,” describes Jeffrey. “As Pat and I spoke of the materials that might be used, we shared a desire to use as many naturally grown, locally sourced materials as possible. So, all the antler used was from naturally shed antlers which fall off the deer and then regrow each year. The clay comes from pits in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. The wood was sourced from a local wood reclaiming company that specializes in grain elevator timbers.”

As Jeffrey thought and prayed about the project, his mind was drawn to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23. “I felt that it was an apt passage for a baptismal font that was to represent Saskatchewan.”

The decorative marks on my pottery echo the land around Jeffrey. Furrows and fields echoed in the dark marks, clouds in the sky and snowbanks are imagined in the blank spaces. Both bowl and marks made from mixtures of the abundant clay, which lies beneath our province’s fertile layer of topsoil. On the font, there are subtle green markings. Looking closely, on both on the inside and outside, there are three intersecting circular marks representing the Trinity. Flowing out of this are lines that flow around the bowl as an expression of how God is at work in the world.

The base has simple straight lines that bring to mind the provincial boundaries. Jeffrey has been exploring working with antler as a creative material for a few years, and antler inlay was next on his list of things to try. Each pair of inlaid images represents one of the types of soil used in the parable to describe the differing responses to the gospel reading:

“A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep.  But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots.  Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

The bolted sections are of differing lengths to echo the differing harvests coming from the good soil. Using reclaimed lumber means it comes with a variety of marks and scars from its previous life, beautiful stories of the journey the wood has taken, and perhaps an echo of our own lives as God works on and in us to reclaim, restore and reconcile us.

Following National Convention, the font will take up residence in its new home: Luther College’s Chapel, as they were in need of a font.