About Roger Jamison

 

Biography
I grew up on a farm on the plains of Kansas and attended the University of Kansas and Bethany College where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art in 1970. Following that, at Indiana University I received the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Ceramics in 1974.  From there I moved to Macon, Georgia where I taught ceramics, drawing and design at Mercer University until 2009 when I retired to work full time in my studio.
Travel has been an important part of my education.  I was fortunate to participtate in three residencies.  First, in 1978 with the University of Georgia’s Studies Abroad in Cortona, Italy, then at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts in 1986 and in 2004 with the UGA Studies Abroad program in  Shigaraki, Japan where I learned more about traditional wood firing techniques.
My interest in firing with wood began in the 1970’s when I began making burnished forms which were fired in a bonfire. In 1984 I built my first high-fire wood fired kiln at Mercer which I enjoyed firing every term with my students.  In 1986 I was invited to help Frank Boyden and Tom Coleman fire the East Creek Anagama in Oregon, a life changing experience which led ultimately to my building my own anagama.
In 1988 my wife Sherrie and I moved to a new home near Juliette, GA where I built a studio and began firing salt glazed ware in a small wood-burning kiln. I have operated a wood-fire pottery since then.  In 2000 I built a 250 cu. ft. Japanese style anagama kiln which is fired for up to 5 days with wood alone in order to achieve unique natural ash glazing effects.  The anagama holds 500 or more pieces and is fired twice a year by a community of potters and friends.
I have been making pots for everyday use and special occasions for over 40 years and I still love it.
 

 
About my Work
About 95 percent of my work begins on the treadle wheel, and these days I do quite of bit of altering of the thrown form.   I work by making small groups of similar forms, three jars, six pitchers, a dozen cups, usually throwing one or two back in the clay bin.   Working in this way helps me to get the form right and encourages evolution of my forms.  I try to make pots quickly and directly enough to achieve a certain vitality of form. Wood firing enhances this, creating lively surfaces which are never the same from pot to pot and kiln to kiln, surfaces which speak of the clay and the fire, of material and process.  The pots often seem old to me but at the same time contemporary.  The best of them achieve a kind of timelessness.
The anagama firings last five days in order to build up natural ash glazing on the forms while the wood/salt kiln is usually a one day firing.  The amount of wood varies from firing to firing, but on average the wood/salt kiln uses three quarters of a cord and the anagama about 7 cords of wood. All the fuel is waste wood, scraps from local wood shops, pine beetle-killed pine trees and the occasional windfall.  These renewable sources of fuel are usually free, but require a tremendous investment in labor to prepare and use.  That said, the process is enjoyable, especially the group firings and the occasional jewel that comes out of the kiln makes it worthwhile.
There are a lot of surprises when a wood kiln is unloaded.  Often the pots look much different than I expected and it takes me a while to come to appreciate them.  It has been a lesson in learning to see them for what they are rather than what I might have hoped they would be.   The visual and tactile layers of information, from the textures and marks of the wheel and tools, to the cracking slip, wet ash or flashing from the fire and salt, can be read in a way which is like the way we read a landscape for its geologic-ecologic story.  The layers of process may harmonize or conflict with each other and, in doing so, suggest a kind of evolution, the pot’s own story.
I make pots to be used.  Mostly they are modest sized forms for cooking, serving, for keeping things and for flowers.  I want them to be used because I believe that a pot only fully communicates as it is being used.  The best pots, like the best poems and the best paintings, continue to reveal themselves over time.  I hope the people who buy my pots or get them as gifts find that using them makes the simple everyday acts of eating, drinking and sharing food more special than they might have been.