By Michael Gennings Staff Local potter Mike Leishman is playing a role in Jubilee Presbyterian Church’s 150th anniversary. Leishman, a Sunnidale-area resident and well-known craftsman, has developed a line of commemorative products for the Stayner church. The church is selling the items to people who want a keepsake. The items are also being used as gifts for guests taking part in anniversary celebrations, which are happening throughout the year. He said the church contacted him last September about developing a 150th anniversary product. He said he was happy to take part. "The church has always been kind of good to me. I’ve done some different projects with churches. It’s rewarding to be a part of something that means so much to people," Leishman said. Members of the church’s anniversary committee and Leishman bandied about several ideas and in January he started developing some "test product". The committee subsequently settled on a white and black glazed line, comprised of a mug, small dish and trivet. "The main thing was we wanted something different than the traditional plate, with gold trim, that you see in people’s cupboards and at auction sales," said anniversary committee member Judy Robbinson, when asked why Leishman was approached. "We wanted something local and we wanted something that was functional." To date Leishman has made about 150 pieces. Each piece contains the name of the church and decorative elements significant to Jubilee. For example, the trivet has an image of the church, located on Main Street. The image is from a pen and ink sketch that Leishman did and had turned into a stamp by a company in London, Ont. The company made other decorative stamps that Leishman used on the project as well. To make items such as the trivet, Leishman said he rolls clay until it’s flat. He then cuts the clay to the desired shape, stamps it, signs it and allows it to dry over a four to five-day period. To make other shapes, such as mugs, he uses his potter’s wheel. The pieces then go into the kiln for a 24-hour period, with the temperature reaching 1,800 F. The kiln is used to take the water out of the clay, he said. Once done in the kiln, the glaze is applied to the items and they are then returned to the kiln for a 35-hour period, with the temperature reaching 2,300 F. The process seals the object so that once it’s used, water can’t get into the clay. All of the work is done in the basement of the red brick schoolhouse, built in 1913, where he and his wife Connie live, just south of Sunnidale Corners on County Road 10. "I’ve kind of perfected the whole process over the years," Leishman said, while giving a tour of his workspace. He noted his daughter, Ivy, a potter herself, and his wife help produce the items. Leishman learned his trade while attending the Ontario College of Art in Toronto for three years from 1969 to 1971. With some prodding, Leishman humbly confesses he had a natural ability. He then studied fine arts at the University of Guelph for two years before heading off to earn a living. He owned and operated Cobalt Pottery in Cobalt, Ontario, for four years before relocating in 1979 to his current location – a move that Leishman said brought them closer to the Toronto market, where he began wholesaling his product. People across the country and around the globe now own pottery he’s made at the schoolhouse, which includes a storefront. Robbinson said the mugs Leishman made for Jubilee sell for $25; the trivets go for $30 and the small dishes for $20. They can be purchased by contacting Robbinson at 428-2479.