Rodger Jacobs

Media: Wood

Newland, NC

Greetings, my name is Rodger Jacobs and I am a self taught woodturner and a sculptor. I was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1946. My dad, a WWII combat veteran going to veterinary school at Duke University on the GI bill transferred from Duke to Ohio State in 1948 and I grew up in northern Ohio. I graduated from high school in 1965 and was off to see the world shortly thereafter. But while I was in high school I noticed something about myself: I felt most at home when I was in the art rooms or woodshop making.

I joined the Marine Corps early in 1966 and soon found myself fighting as a grunt in Vietnam with the infamous Walking Dead battalion of the Ninth Marines. The Walking Dead saw pretty much constant combat. I was wounded in action and spent most of a year in a Naval hospital recuperating. I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1969 and left the country for a number of years to lick the wounds I received in combat and to try to figure out what life was all about. After a time I found myself making. In St. Croix I carved redwood signs for hotels and restaurants, worked coral, bone, and silver into jewelry for friends, and remodeled bars with salvaged boat parts. I started to collect tools. An attack of materialism caused me to give up the beach life and return to the states. I drifted into the entertainment business for a while, working as a rock and roll roadie for a couple of years but the road life eventually wore thin. I went to Aspen for two years and spent the summers working on ranches and the winters skiing. I continued to drift and moved to Indiana and started working in the custom van market. While in Indiana I started shooting flintlock rifles in competition and I discovered living history, with affects me to this day. All the clothes and gear for living history are carefully researched and made by hand, and once again I found myself making. Leather, bone horn, steel, wood, glass, metal, and fibers, all natural materials were the medium. It was then that I first started turning wood. My first turning was a end cap for a powder horn.

I moved to North Carolina in 1984 to be close to my father and took a job in construction. I was injured in a fall and spent a year in a back brace recovering. During my recovery I kept food on the table and the lights on turning firewood on a small lathe into weed pots, something I could sell. People bought my work and I started getting interested in woodturning as an art form. I joined a small craft coop to sell my work and I there met my future better half Lucy who is a maker herself. Lucy is a potter and a teacher.

I started turning full time and juried into membership with the Southern Highlands Craft Guild in 1987. I served three years on the guild's Board of Directors. Also in 1987 I took the plunge and designed and in two years of hard work built my studio. Now I had a wonderful place to grow and work. I’ve also learned that teaching, both on an individual basis and in a workshop experience, is part of that growth. I taught woodturning workshops at two great craft schools, Arrowmount School in Gatlingburg TN and John Campbell Folk School in Brasstown NC.

In 2002 I found myself having to deal with my combat experience in Vietnam. PTSD was intruding into my life and I could not shake it. I went to the VA and found help in the form of medication and therapy. I was still missing a piece of life as I was engaged physically, and intellectually but not spiritually. I then found the Red Road, a traditional Lakota spiritual path that helped complete my person and then started to heal from war. At this time I started to work on my Vietnam memoir. Based on the 146 letters and photos I sent home to my parents, my memoir, Stained with the Mud of Khe Sanh a Marines Letters from Vietnam 1966-1967 was published in 2012 and is available from the publisher McFarland or on Amazon. Creating the manuscript from my letters and photos helped me lay to rest some of the war demons that had invaded my soul. I found out one thing about myself at this time. I am and will always be a warrior.

 I find pleasure and freedom with a dash of danger in turning; and selling my work to make a living gives me a feeling that I have been searching for over so many years. More and more, pure sculpture seems to be finding its way into my life. My Wheel Forms are an example of this.

I have developed my techniques from the forerunners of modern turning. The shapes and proportions that I borrow from are timeless, used for thousands of years by Oriental, Middle Eastern, and American Indian vessel makers. I believe in using the wood that I find locally. It is part of the fun to tramp through the woods looking for distressed, burled, spalted, or even plain trees. It is hard work getting the logs and pieces out of the woods. Log chains, peaveys, chain saws are the standard tools of the trade. It’s worth it though. Every time I open a piece of wood it’s like Christmas, and every piece is different. Shape and balance are the keys. In a hundred years, all that will be left is the shape: that the important part. I feel I have reached my goal when the work breathes by itself, when it radiates that certain aura that cannot be improved upon. Then I’m ready to start another, and another.

Rodger Jacobs March 2015

Selected Exhibitions______________________________________


Collectors Choice 2007, The Greenhill Center for NC Art, Greensboro, NC, 2007

A Vision Realized, Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC, 2006

First in Fight: The Marine Corps in Vietnam, National Veterans Art Museum, Chicago,

 IL, 2005

Art in Embassies, Crafts from the Carolinas, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 2003

The Birthday Party, Brand Library and Art Center, Glendale, CA, 2001

Family Legacies, The Art Cellar Gallery, 2001

Two for 2000, Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC, 2000

Select 2000, Green Hill Center for NC Art, Greensboro, NC, 2000

Rodger Jacobs, Woodturner, Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC 1999

Small Treasurers, Del Mano Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 1999

Beyond Tradition, Masterworks of Contemporary Wood,  Heller Gallery, NY, NY, 1998

Spotlight 98: American Crafts Council, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN,  1998

Fanciful & Functional, Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC, 1998

Up Against the Wall, Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc., 1998

Turned Wood Now, Redefining the Lathe-Turned Object, Arizona Art Museum, Tempe,AZ 1997-1998

Artistry in Wood, Hanson Artsource, Knoxville, TN 1997

30th Annual Centerpiece Project, NC Arts Council, Raleigh, NC 10/97

Design & Narrative, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN, 1997

Turned Askew, Piedmont Craftsmen, Winston-Salem, NC 1995

The Spirited Vessel, Sawtooth Center for Visual Art, Winston Salem, NC, 1995

Treenware, Yale-Smithsonian Symposium on Material Culture, Yale University, April,


The American Craft, Trinity Arts Group, Atlanta, GA, April 1994

Crafts of the Carolinas, November 1993 through June 1994

Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Rudolph E. Lee Gallery, Clemson University, Clemson, SC; Folk Art Center, Asheville, NC; Spirit Square

Center for the Arts, Charlotte, NC; Green Hill Art Center, Greensboro, NC

Vessels ‘92, The Upper Gallery, Milwaukee, WIS, May 1992

Small Craft Warnings, Gallery G, Pittsburgh, PA, 1991

Visions & Concepts, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN, October 1990

Wood & Glass, Bascom-Louise Gallery, Highlands, NC, May 1990


Private Collections_______________________________________


Arrowmont School

Asheville Art Museum

Jerry Drown

Cora Lee DuPont

Elon College Permanent Collection

John C. Campbell Folk School Permanent Collection

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum Permanent Collection

Norman Lear

Nancy Mangum

Hugh Morton, Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum

General & Mrs. William Westmoreland

Ophra Winfrey

Ron Wornick

Southern Highland Craft Guild Permanent Collection

Mr. & Mrs. Robert Zimmerman


Guild & Gallery Representation_____________________________


Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC

Art Cellar, Banner Elk, NC

Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc., Winston-Salem, NC

Southern Highland Craft Guild, Asheville, NC


Teaching Experience_____________________________________


Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Woodturning Instructor 8/01, 6/00, 4/98, 4/97, 9/94, 4/94, 3/93, 4/91

Workshop Assistant, Al Stirt 3/90; Liam O’Neil 6/89; David Ellsworth 3/89

Pi Phi Weekend, All-Woman Woodturning Class, 1998, 1997, 1996

Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville, TN

Woodturning Instructor, 10/95

John C Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC

Masters Classes in Woodturning 1/96, 1/95, 1/94, 1/93

Woodturning Instructor 3/97, 11/92, 8/91

Private one and two day studio workshops 1988-1999. Approved by the American Association of Woodturners for their scholarship program.


Guilds & Association Memberships_________________________


National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, Chicago, IL, Artist Member since 2003

Southern Highland Craft Guild, Asheville, NC since 1987; Board of Trustees 1996-99

Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc., Winston Salem, NC since 1994; Standards Jury 1996, 1999

Expressions Guild Gallery, Blowing Rock NC, 1986-1998; Board President 1994-95

American Association of Woodturners, Shore View, MN since 1986




American Wood Turner, American Association of Woodturners

Get a Grip: Woodturning Hand Grips, June 1998

Book Review: Practice of Woodturning by Mike Darlow,

September 1996  

Design at Arrowmont, March 1996

Sneaky Bowls, March 1995

Video Review: Practice of Woodturning by Mike Darlow, February 1994

Controlling the Bite with a Back Stand, March 1993

Dust Extraction, March 1992

The Sanding of Turned Wood Objects, March 1989


Programs & Demonstrations______________________________


Carolina Mountain Woodturners, Folk Art Center, Asheville, NC 1/2000

NC Mountain Woodturners, Folk Art Center, Asheville, NC, 12/99

NC Woodturners Symposium, Statesville, NC 10/99

West Virginia Woodturners, Charleston WV, 12/98

Indiana Woodturners, Indianapolis, IN, 4/98

Arizona Woodturners, Tempe, AZ, 10/97

Turning Southern Style, Georgia Woodturners, Unicoi, GA, 9/98, 9/97

American Association of Woodturners National Symposium, Greensboro, NC, 6/96

Mapping the New Millennium, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN, 5/95

Brasstown Woodturners Guild, Brasstown, NC, 2/95

Cincinnati Woodturners, Cincinnati OH, 2/95

Tribute to the Osolniks, Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN, 10/94

Georgia Association of Woodtworkers, Conyers, GA 6/94

Tennessee Woodturning Symposium, Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville, TN 8/93

American Association of Woodturners, NC Chapter, Host/demonstrator, Newland, NC,

         Annually in September, 1991-1996



Rodger Jacobs 154 Stover Ridge Road, Newland, NC 28657

828/733-9819 •




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