Joe Jeffcoat. For 35 years, I’ve followed my passion for clay in some form or fashion. As a graduate of Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, NC and a new employee of BB&T, my wife, Tonda, and I enrolled in the first pottery class held at Wilson Technical Institute. We soon realized that clay would always be a part of our lives. Study with Lanny Pelletier, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, and Frank Byrd provided the critical fundamentals which have allowed me to develop my own, personal style. My association and friendship with Dan Finch at Finch Pottery has played a major role in my continued growth as a potter. In 2005, after retiring from BB&T after 33 years, we moved to Little River, SC and opened Jeffcoat Pottery outside of Calabash, NC. We work full-time creating functional and decorative pieces.
The work I create often combines traditional, wheel-thrown forms with surface carving added by Tonda. Many of the large forms are created by assembling separately throw pieces together with attention to the final form. The glazed pieces are fired to cone 10 using either a gas or wood kiln. Some of my most recent work focuses on firing porcelain using crystalline glazes. In the firing process, the pieces are taken to a high temperature and then the temperature is dropped and held for four hours. During this time, the zinc component of the glaze begins to grow crystals on the surface of the pots. Even though the complete process from start to finish is quite labor-intensive and requires precision, the results when opening a kiln can be spectacular.
Tonda Jeffcoat. When I first created something from clay in a ceramics class at Atlantic Christian College in 1973, I was forever hooked. After graduating with an Art Education degree in 1974 and beginning my 31 year career as an elementary art teacher in Wilson County, NC, I enrolled in the newly created pottery class at Wilson Technical College. Soon after, my husband, Joe, also enrolled in the class and we’ve been creating pots individually and collaboratively since that time. In those early years I was fortunate enough to have instructors such as Lanny Pelletier, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, and Frank Byrd teaching the foundation of clay work. Additionally, our work and friendship with Dan Finch has contributed greatly to where we are today. I find clay to be the most amazing medium. It can be manipulated with such forgiveness when wet and become so fragile and unforgiving when dry. After throwing a form, I often alter it and change the surface in some way, whether it be in creating a sculptural relief, piercing, or carving into the clay. Many times we collaborate on pieces with Joe throwing the form and I working on the surface. Recently, I have also been working on thrown porcelain finished with crystalline glazes.
In 2005, Joe and I retired, moved from Wilson and opened Jeffcoat Pottery in Calabash, NC. Our daughter, Casey, also works as a potter in the studio. We have definitely not slowed down in retirement and clay will always be in our lives.