I live and work in Waynesboro VA. I exhibit my work nationally and sell through galleries, my online shop, and occasional art fairs. I moved to Waynesboro, VA in 2014 with my wife Katie. In 2017, I opened Make Waynesboro Clay Studio, offering memberships and classes. We previously lived in Happy Valley PA, where I earned an MFA in ceramics at Penn State. I attended college at Bradley University in my hometown of Peoria, Illinois, where I studied both sculpture and ceramics.
About the Work
The first time I made something years ago, something clicked for me. The act of making something from relatively nothing made it seem that there was something special about me. It was unlike any work I’d done before—much more meaningful somehow. I was hooked. I began to take art classes in college to see what else I could do. Through exposure to various artists, I learned that there were some who made a living making their craft. Once it occurred to me that this possibility existed, I was convinced that it was what I wanted for myself.
I think I was drawn to clay because of its working properties; Clay is a very squishy, soft, malleable material. These are qualities which I fully embrace and exploit in making my pieces. By giving my work just some of the basic qualities of life–a sense of movement, growth, and breath—the pieces develop presence and take on unique personalities and trajectories. I strive to give a feeling of animation to my work that suggests gesture. This speaks to the inspiration for many of my forms and surfaces, which is drawn from nature. I spend a lot of time in the woods, hiking, looking for mushrooms, and finding plenty of other things along the way. The variety and diversity of life that I encounter finds its way into my work.
For me, working for myself and making things with my hands makes me feel more grounded and perhaps more human. My work is not rooted in a particular tradition or style, but rather a tempo or mood that I think comes from some combination of my personality and my interest in nature and biology. I try to make works that engage users visually and tactfully, while also fulfilling a purpose for the user. While I’ve gone through many styles and types of work, I think that feeling of animation and energy has remained constant, and it is this which I view as the defining characteristic of what I produce.
Carrie Waller - Studio Assistant
Carrie helps Jake around the studio with a number of things related to his production work, including everything from labeling and packing finished to to assisting with glazing. Carrie is also the founder of the award-winning home décor crafting blog, Dream Green DIY. She has a background in studio art and art history and while she is always eager to soak up new trends, mid-century modern is her go-to era of choice.