Every artist in a pottery booth I visited at the Blue Dome Art Festival this past weekend said visiting Jeff at the 3rd Street Clayworks booth was a must.
Last year I missed him, but this year I waited. It didn’t take an introduction to spot him.
He’s one of those people who looks like he’s got a story and can tell it.
“I’ve been throwing glass for 36 years and I’ve never lost my love for it,” said Jeff.
He’s a character with a bushy beard and an apron covered in clay. The teacher fell in love with making pottery decades ago when he took a class.
“After a month or so I thought, ‘Hell I can do that.’ So I’d go in at night and put on a load of clay.”
That was in the late 1970s. Now Jeff is the guy planting the pottery bug in students.
At one point during the interview, a former student walked up and asked if he remembered her from 10 years ago.
Jeff started rattling off stories from their days in class and was thrilled to learn his former student was in college in Boston for art therapy.
“It’s therapeutic for some people. Some people it’s that creative outlet that they need.”
Jeff now has students of all kinds, men and women from young to elderly.
“All ages, all different backgrounds and walks of life. Men, women… everything in between.”
You gotta hear Jeff for yourself. He has a lot more to share. Click on play below.
Some students get frustrated and don’t stick with it for long.
“The hard part is to come in with no expectations,” said Jeff. “I tell people, if you’re type A, you take that cloak off at the door and hang it on the hat rack. You’ve gotta screw up to learn.”
You don’t need any experience at all to get started.
You don’t need a lot of money either, just time.
“If you break it down into the monthly thing, it;’s not too bad. It’s $175 for eight weeks. We provide everything, including one 25 lb. bag of clay to get your started.”
All you need to bring is a 5 lb. bucket to store your clay. The price also includes all of the practice time you can handle.
“If you miss a week or two you don’t lose them.”
Everyone has a different learning curve. “Some people it takes two weeks. Some people it takes 12 weeks. It just depends on the person and how much time they come in and practice.”
Jeff starts students out with a simple cylinder. Once that’s mastered, you move on to the mug.
“Some places you go they start you out and they have you make a little bowl the first night. Well, it doesn’t teach you squat.”
I asked Jeff about the DIY projects at home that you see all over Pinterest. I was surprised by his answer.
“It’s what you’ve got to work with… what you want to do and what you’ve got at the time.”
“If that’s what somebody’s got, more power to them. As long as they’re having fun.”
Jeff just wants you to try it, whether taking a class or in your own home.
For him the interview for DIY April wasn’t about making money and promoting his business, but spreading his passion.
“I don’t worry about the business crap of it. I don’t like business, so I make pots and if people buy them great.”