Work

I'm fascinated by different materials. Clay will do things that glass can not. And vice versa. I often fire an unusual material like toothpaste - just to see what happens.

It is that sense of discovery

that keeps me wondering.

Spinning clay on a potter's wheel

Clay

Large Scale

Native Materials

Installation

Large Scale

Native Materials

Installation

Clay

In 2007, Jeff purchased a five-acre farm just south of town. Now home and studio, he continues to appreciate the property for its natural inspiration — old orchards, a freshwater spring, five barns, a vegetable garden. etc.

Three years into purchasing the property, Jeff’s garden experienced issues. Jeff soon discovered his property is sitting on natural Michigan clay. Having modest intentions for using the material, he conducted simple test firings of homemade bricks. The cooled kiln revealed clay that had become beautiful rich, rusty red in the firing process, and Jeff quickly regarded this clay was similar to a purchasable ‘earthenware.’

From then on, Jeff plays with this clay—spending time digging, processing, and refining the material. After digging, Jeff lays out the clay to dry on his barn floor. Once bone dry. it’s placed in clean trashcans filled with water. The clay then dissolves Into a thick slurry that will then be sifted through a window screen. Rocks, twigs. and unwanted debris are removed to leave a khan step behind. Only days later. after hanging to dry in pillowcases, the slip sets to a consistency similar to commercially sold clay.

Knowing this low-tech production has been used for thousands of years, Jeff experiences the tradition more intimately by creating limited pieces from this ‘Backyard Clay’.

Clay

In 2007, Jeff purchased a five-acre farm just south of town. Now home and studio, he continues to appreciate the property for its natural inspiration — old orchards, a freshwater spring, five barns, a vegetable garden. etc.

Three years into purchasing the property, Jeff’s garden experienced issues. Jeff soon discovered his property is sitting on natural Michigan clay. Having modest intentions for using the material, he conducted simple test firings of homemade bricks. The cooled kiln revealed clay that had become beautiful rich, rusty red in the firing process, and Jeff quickly regarded this clay was similar to a purchasable ‘earthenware.’

From then on, Jeff plays with this clay—spending time digging, processing, and refining the material. After digging, Jeff lays out the clay to dry on his barn floor. Once bone dry. it’s placed in clean trashcans filled with water. The clay then dissolves Into a thick slurry that will then be sifted through a window screen. Rocks, twigs. and unwanted debris are removed to leave a khan step behind. Only days later. after hanging to dry in pillowcases, the slip sets to a consistency similar to commercially sold clay.

Knowing this low-tech production has been used for thousands of years, Jeff experiences the tradition more intimately by creating limited pieces from this ‘Backyard Clay’.

Glass

Glass

I once told my mentor that I live in clay, but I dream in glass. It was silly, but I think it is true. I love ceramics and will never leave it. But as I’ve gotten to know ceramics and the vastness of what the material of clay can do, I’ve also found frustrations in what it will not do. It is this type of thinking that has allowed me to realize that each material has its own set of unique working conditions. My thought is that if I get to know many different materials, I can then set about designing and creating something that I would like to see. This will allow for unique combinations. Light goes through glass, and the color of that glass changes as the lighting does. Because of this, I love to see glass lit from underneath or a singular direction. I like to see thickness in a glass wall, the optics of sparkle and the colored shadows that appear on my walls at home. 

Melting glass

Glass

I once told my mentor that I live in clay, but I dream in glass. It was silly, but I think it is true. I love ceramics and will never leave it. But as I’ve gotten to know ceramics and the vastness of what the material of clay can do, I’ve also found frustrations in what it will not do. It is this type of thinking that has allowed me to realize that each material has its own set of unique working conditions. My thought is that if I get to know many different materials, I can then set about designing and creating something that I would like to see. This will allow for unique combinations. Light goes through glass, and the color of that glass changes as the lighting does. Because of this, I love to see glass lit from underneath or a singular direction. I like to see thickness in a glass wall, the optics of sparkle and the colored shadows that appear on my walls at home. 

Glow in the dark glass by Jeff Blandford

Art + Science

Jeff will experiment with local materials and see what he can create. He is also inspired by the world around him. Some of his Art + Science include the following:

  • Glow in the dark glass
  • Homegrown crystals

Art + Science

Jeff will experiment with local materials and see what he can create. He is also inspired by the world around him. Some of his Art + Science include the following:

  • Glow in the dark glass
  • Homegrown crystals

Art + Science

Jeff will experiment with local materials and see what he can create. He is also inspired by the world around him. Some of his Art + Science include the following:

  • Glow in the dark glass
  • Homegrown crystals
Jeff Blandford making large scale pottery

Large Scale

Large Scale

Before I was an artist, I was a soccer player. By the time I found ceramics at the end of high school, my days as an athlete were wrapping up. Ceramics is a physically demanding artform. The weight of materials, the heat, the hours of manual labor and being crouched over a pottery wheel. I liked to move and be active, so it was a natural fit for me. I knew when I worked hard enough, because my body was tired. Along with bringing physicality to the wheel, I wondered about the limitations of clay. How tall could a piece get? How heavy can wet clay be, before it collapses? It was a wonder early in my days, and the beginning of my large-scale experiments.  

I first made a 75-pound bowl. I thought it was huge, but it worked fairly easily, so it didn’t give me any answers. The next day I used 150 pounds of clay… and was able to make another bowl fairly easily. Surprised, I figured out how much clay we could put on a pottery wheel and still get it to spin. I used the strongest pottery wheel that is commercially made, and I threw a 400 pound bowl that was over 5 feet across. I was excited that I made it; but stumped as I still found no limits. It was then that I realized how amazing clay is, and that the only limitations are equipment. I continue to experiment with art in varying degrees of size, and will most definitely make my own bathtub- one day.  

Native Materials

Jeff uses local materials in some of the artwork he creates. He has natural brown clay in his backyard, which when fired up the clay actually turns red, as you can see in this picture. Then the clay that was used for the vase was sourced from a nearby beach.

Jeff Blandford Installation

Installation

Installation

The area that I grew up in was a large producer of Mid-Century-Modern furniture.   Charles and Ray Eames were iconic designers whose legendary designs are as appreciated today as they were 70+ years ago.  Herman Miller is a local, yet global manufacturer of these pieces.  In our childhood home there was a living room that was generally known as the adult room.  Though we were allowed in it, it was a shoes-off-the-couch kind of room.   The room was often perfectly set with little clutter, and I was always drawn to it.   Though just a room in our home, I think this was my first experience with a curated, almost installation-like space.  I was drawn to the sense of order and minimalism.   These have become dominant traits in all of my installations.  

I think if Eames and Dr. Seuss were to have a baby, the result would be me and my work.  My installations are the perfect anecdote of that.  Simple, clutter free, clean spaces, with a bold sense of design, whimsy, and Dr. Seussian flavor.   

Take a tour!

Come see Jeff Blandford’s incredible art in person! Take a tour of the Gallery in Saugatuck, MI. 

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