By Ayanna Thompson, Staff Writer
Renowned ceramicist and glass blower, Jeff Blandford, visited the Armstrong ceramics studio Feb. 19 to demonstrate his wheel-throwing techniques. He also threw 200 pounds of clay at S.P.A.C.E. on Feb. 20, making his visit to Savannah an influential one for students.
He was invited by the art department after Professor “Mac” McCusker and her student, Shawn Patrick, witnessed Blandford’s talent on the wheel at a workshop in North Carolina.
“Jeff is such a cool, down to earth person. He has a different look on clay and he pushes [his limits]. He referred to [throwing on] the wheel as not for making pots, [but rather] for making parts,” Student Shawn Patrick said.
Blandford graduated in 2007 from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts with a concentration in ceramics. The potter has been working with clay for 12 years but describes his experience to be better measured in pounds of clay rather than years. Jeff has thrown a whopping 100,000 pounds of clay to date with his largest piece weighing in at about 400 pounds.
Ceramics is a very physically demanding craft and Blandford states that he stays in shape for his work by constantly being on the wheel. He prefers width over height and has set a record for some of the largest ceramic pieces in the United States. What’s equally astounding is that he began on the wheel by teaching himself in high school. Blandford says he first tried clay because “[he] can’t draw and [he] can’t paint.
“My art teacher said ‘we have these wheels if you want to teach yourself’, so I stayed after school and taught myself a little bit every day and studied ceramics by the time I got to college,” Blandford said.
He explained that he is inspired by unconventional influences that are not art, like furniture design, architecture, glass blowing, [farming] and nature. Blandford also looks up to Dale Chihuly, an artist that specializes in glass blowing and is influenced by his work and the themes behind it.
Harriet Zabusky-Zand, a student who was a part of the group that Blandford worked with, said “He was so patient and willing to [help anyone that asked] He worked with everyone individually [despite their skill- level].”
Back at the studio, he interacted with students who were eager to learn from his skill-bank concerning the craft. Harriet Zabusky-Zand, a student who was a part of the group that Blandford worked with, said “He was so patient and willing to [help anyone that asked] He worked with everyone individually [despite their skill- level].”
Jeff Blandford’s work is extremely profound yet relatable to the consumer. He claims that he would like to be remembered as “someone willing to share knowledge and help others skip the steps that he could not.”
Blandford currently resides on an organic farm in Fennville, Michigan nestled on about five acres of land. His home includes five barns that he has transformed into studios for both his ceramic work and glassblowing. The property is also conveniently situated on top of a wealth of clay. Volmod is his own art gallery, which stands for “Voluptuous. Modern. Ceramic.” Here, he offers people the opportunity to view and buy his work.