One of the areas where Walt Taylor excels is passing on his love for art. That’s why he enjoys sharing his knowledge with adults and especially young people, as they’re our future artists.
As a small child he lived on a farm in Lebanon, Ohio where he attended a one-room school that was very typical of schools in those days: no running water, out door toilets, a pot bellied stove, and a paddle hanging on the wall behind the stove.
Walt had a story to tell about that paddle. A school bully pushed him around one day and Walt swung his lunch bucket, and hit the bully in the head knocking him to the ground. Both were taken inside and leaned over a desk for a paddling. First, the bully received a stern thrashing while Walt quaked. When it was Walt’s turn, the teacher swung the paddle one time so hard it hit the side of the desk and broke in two. No paddling for Walt that day. Doesn’t sound like an accident on the part of the teacher to me.
The family moved often. His father said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gains a great polish.” At one time they lived near Fort Ancient and Walt followed his dad around the field when he was plowing, and found many arrowheads.
Woodcrafting has been a hobby since he was a young man. His building skills still go on today as he makes cabinets, chairs, and recently a communion stand for a local church that had just rebuilt.
For the past few years, he has been making one new chair for their dining room each year. But he said he has been procrastinating about finishing the last two. He even joined the Procrastinators Anonymous, but they haven’t had a meeting yet.
He also enjoyed working on automobiles so developed mechanical skills as well. That came in handy as he and his wife, Sheila, motorcycled all over the country. His favorite places to ride were in the mountains out west. It was in those mountains of Montana, where they saw the work of western potters, that an interest for making pottery began.
They also discovered many things on those back roads that you just can’t see from the interstate. He thought he noticed something that looked like Stonehenge on one such road, but it turned out to be Carhenge. Here cars were buried front first in the ground. Then there was the House on a Rock, a motel on an Indian reservation, and the list goes on.
It wasn’t until 1992 that Walt tried his hand at pottery. At Octoberfest, he purchased his first kiln and making pottery has become his passion ever since. The first bowl he made was out of ‘unused’ kitty litter! He learned that kitty litter had a clay base and when mixed with a little bit of water could be worked into shape. That bowl still sets on his bedroom stand today.
To begin with, he made pottery items just because he enjoyed doing it. Then he began giving them to his friends, who told him that he should be selling them. That began a business they ran until last year, Taymoor Pottery…a combination of his last name and his wife, Sheila’s maiden name.
Walt and Sheila, hope to teach youngsters to enjoy art as much as they do. They’ve helped teach children’s art classes at the Salt Fork Festival for several years. Wherever Walt is making pottery, children can usually be found watching. Talking about children always brings a smile to his face as ,“They are fun to work with. If you treat them as equals, they accept you as you are.”
For the last ten years, Walt has portrayed Father Christmas for Dickens Victorian Village. He would meet buses on the street or in the Welcome Center and probably has his picture in many family albums as a result. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to do that this year at the age of 91.
Even though the business is closed, they still enjoy making pottery. Now they make just what they like. Right now Raku, a Japanese style is a favorite. It was first used by the Japanese Emperor and was known as a ‘throw away pottery’. The emperor would drink his tea, then throw the cup against the wall.
Raku is a ‘quick fire, quick cool’ kind of pottery so it would be fired and ready for supper quickly. Today in the United States a glaze is added and it’s no long a throw away. Actually it’s so attractive you wouldn’t want to throw it away.
Walt is just ‘a good old boy’, who has taken an interest in the community in many different ways. Thoughts of travel still skip through his mind and he often dreams of living in Hawaii or Tahiti…or at least visiting. Our world could use more of those ‘good old boys’.