Nestled up in Northern Ontario, you will most likely find Jennifer Taylor in her home studio honing in on her artisanal skills. Her curiosity keeps her busy learning and experimenting with new of materials and creative projects on the regular! She has always been motivated by the idea of filling her wardrobe and home with beautiful, natural and handmade items that will last a lifetime.
To find out more about what Jennifer has been working on lately... Keep reading!
Jennifer Taylor sitting in her home studio wearing her own handmade pair of clogs!
Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Toronto but have spent the past 30 years in Northern Ontario. For more than 10 years I designed and manufactured my own line of children’s accessories, Caribou Cove Designs, which I sold wholesale across Canada. I got tired of production sewing alone and returned to my background as a Kindergarten Early Childhood Educator. I’ve been retired now for 3 years and finally have time to return to my love of making things. I am a mostly self-taught jack of all textile trades but master of none. I have always loved history and have studied textiles and clothing extensively. My main focus is 18th and early 19th Centuries in both Canada and Scotland. I’ve been involved in living history events here in Ontario for almost 30 years and have always enjoyed being able to use and wear the things I create.
If you were a shoe what type of shoe would you be?
An 18th c. mule with a louis heel in a bright coloured leather. I like the lines and I like wearing backless shoes…I plan on making a pair.
Pictured above: 18th c. Mule inspiration
What inspired you to take classes at Art and Sole?
I love shoes and I have always wanted to try making them. When I heard about Art and Sole Academy, I knew this was my chance to learn.
I started with the introductory classes of leather basics and shoe making 101. I took a clog making class and loved making shoes. From there I have had several private sessions with Jennifer to focus on specific shoe making techniques I wanted to learn. Luckily for me Jennifer has moved Art and Sole Academy to North Bay, Ontario close to my home! So, I’m looking forward to more shoe making adventures.
Have you continued to practice the craft? or have you been working on any other creative projects?
I continue to practice shoe making. I’m currently designing and making more clogs and have plans to make several pairs of mules for myself. I also have been exploring leather work designs for bags and accessories. On top of sewing and knitting I am also an avid weaver so the possibility is there for weaving bands and making sandals. I weave with a 45” 4 harness floor loom for big projects and an inkle band loom for small band projects.
Pictured above: Jennifers weaving work in progresss on her loom
What type of materials do you like to work with?
I have always preferred to work with natural materials. Leather, linen, silk, cotton and recycled fur. I find them wonderful to work with and their biodegradability and reduced environmental impact is important to me.
What other makers or brands do you admire and/or turn to for inspiration?
The majority of my inspiration comes from historic shoes. Museums, books and especially the Bata Shoe museum are all resources I look to. I also love the work of Jeff Churchill of Jitterbug Boy in Toronto, ON.
What does being a maker mean to you?
I have always made things and used those pieces in my life. I think it’s an expression of myself, my creativity and my ideas in a very practical and hands on way.
How does being a maker affect your relationship with shopping and retail?
Several years ago my husband and I decided that our home needed to better reflect our creativity. We began making our own home decor and furnishings through textiles and woodwork. I have taken that idea as inspiration for my clothing choices. While I do shop retail I am slowly expand my wardrobe with pieces of my own design and manufacture. I’m developing a closet of timeless pieces that I love to wear. A favourite is my handwoven Canadian wool wrap coat.
Jennifer's gorgeous handwoven Canadian wool wrap coat
What’s next for you!?!
I am always honing my artisan skills and adding new ones. I want to expand my personal clothing collection, weaving the textiles, designing and creating!
How can we follow along with your next steps?
Facebook-Caribou Cove Designs with my husband Scott