Rodger E. Jacobs
I am a member of the baby boom generation. I was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1946. My dad 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 school I noticed something about myself: I felt most at home when I was in the art rooms or woodshop, creating.
After what I call my sociology period, a combat tour as a Marine grunt in Vietnam and a year in the hospital recuperating, I 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. Once again 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. An attack of materialism caused me to give up the beach life and return to the states, this time working in Colorado. Aspen has a few of my signs, as does Telluride. I also tried the entertainment business for a while, working as a roadie for Capricorn Studios, mainly with the Allman Brothers Band, but the road life soon wore thin.
After a couple of factory working years in the custom van market, I discovered living history, with affects me to this day. Everything is made by hand, and once again I found myself making: for myself and for others. Leather, bone horn, steel, wood, glass, metal, and fibers, all natural materials were the medium. It was then that I first started turning wood.
I have continued to grow and make through several more jobs working with wood, each more demanding and complex. House building, cabinet making, and furniture building have been full time jobs over the last twenty-three years while I have continued to develop my turning. In 1987 I took the plunge and designed and built my own studio. Now I have a wonderful place to grow and work. Iíve also learned that teaching, both on an individual basis and in a workshop experience, is part of that growth.
The commitment I have to woodturning is complete. 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.
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. Itís worth it though. Every time I open a piece itís 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 Iím ready to start another, and another.