About Jeff Blandford
My name is Jeff Blandford and I’m a West Michigan artist who has been actively making work in the area for 20 years. Working primarily as a potter, I also blow glass and work with various different materials of interest. Having grown up in Holland, Michigan, I completed my BFA in Studio Art from Michigan State University in 2007.
Much of my work is centered around my interests in color, design, an appreciation for mid-century-modernism, and science. The pottery wheel is my main tool, a spinning flat surface that I use to shape clay with my hands. I create all of my work on my family’s 5-acre farm just south of Saugatuck, using primitive barn settings as my laboratory for creating art.
“Follow Your Curiosities.”
It was that thinking that helped me to realize my entire farm is on top of clay. I dug, processed, and tested the clay. I now sometimes use locally dug “backyard clay” in works. I bought a big telescope many years ago. All alone late at night looking at the moon, I thought, “Clay could do that.” My moon pots were born. I was watching a documentary on ocean life and bioluminescence; I then spent the hours after it ended doing research into non-living materials that glow in the dark. A year later, I had figured out my formula for my glow-in-the-dark blown glass.
It is these curiosities and tinkering’s that keep me and my work evolving. By using such a variety of materials, temperatures, and process, my work varies greatly from more traditional vases to hyper-modernism, to installation work.
Experimenting with clay
Playing with Fimo clay became a favorite after school activity. I taught myself how to carefully cover emptied eggshells with colorful clay. Looking back, it was one heck of an exercise in developing the gentle touch needed for clay.
Experimenting with fire
My Grandmother gave me a big magnifying glass as a gift. I quickly learned how to make fire. This led to my first time stomping out a fire in flip flops.
Shortly after discovering the powers of my new magnifying glass, I found myself experimenting with art for the first time. I took a box of crayons and removed the paper labels of each color. I would use the magnifying glass and the sunshine’s heat to weld crayons together on their edges. I made boats. Crayon Boats. Welded with their own melted wax, even at that age I thought they were only good if they were functional and floated in my filled-up bathroom sink.
In 2nd grade I patiently waited after art class to ask my teacher a question. I wasn’t a natural at drawing, but I asked her if I could buy one of the woodless pencils from class. She smiled and sold me one for 25 cents. I was excited because it was a chunk of graphite, which looked like a real artists’ tool. It looked like metal but wasn’t. It was my first time being struck by an unusual material. I was curious.
Experimenting with colors & designs
Creepy Crawlers were made and baked in my little toy oven. Experimenting with colors and designs, I sold the rubber bugs on the playground for after-school candy money.
An avid hemp necklace maker, I turned my school locker into a little store. Between classes I would sell them for $7 each, since at the store they were $9. This worked well for a while, until the teachers saw how many I was selling and shut me down. They said that it wasn’t the best use of time between classes. I politely disagreed. They smiled and shook their heads.
My first experience on the pottery wheel. My high school art teacher said, “We have these old pottery wheels but I don’t know how to use them very well. Feel free to stay after school and try it.” That sentence changed my life. I was a soccer player and had 20 minutes to burn each day before practice. My first piece flew off of the pottery wheel and stuck to the wall. I looked around for witnesses and called it a day.
First piece sold
First piece sold to the mother of a good friend. I can remember this piece with so much detail. I sold it for $10.
First gallery representation
A local gallery agreed to take a look at what I had made, I excitedly brought 6 works. He asked me to leave all 6 ceramic pieces in the gallery. I couldn’t believe it, I was on cloud nine.
Graduated High School, purchased rusty old kiln for $500. Didn’t know if it would turn on.
Rented a small studio space on Blue Star Highway. The mostly empty 125+-year-old building became my first studio/gallery. I also did my first art fair.
Began my art studies at Michigan State University.
Assistant Studio Technician
Commissioned by family friend and Herman Miller CEO to design work for his office.
Summer art fairs in Chicago begin. Did several years of summer shows.
Adventures in Giant work. 6 foot tall vases and a 400 pound bowl.
Began co-teaching a pottery workshop at the Ox-Bow School of Art and Residencies.
First time blowing glass.
Started traveling and doing demonstrations professionally, promoting art products for companies.
First Downtown Saugatuck gallery of my own.
Detroit Institute of Art’s Museum
I threw pots in the marble lobby of the Detroit Institute of Art’s Museum. It was fun and funny to get to make work in the fancy marble lobby, but my favorite part was knowing that my works were being made near works by world-famous artists like Diego Rivera.
Spinning Molten Glass
Working with Kellogg
Became an Art Therapist
First Major Museum Exhibition
A Modernist in the Colony