“To divine the significance of pattern is the same as to understand beauty itself.” -Soetsu Yanagi
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Jeff spent his childhood building model cars and getting a feel for clay. His interest piqued when he took a college level ceramic class in High school, which then led him to go on to art school. With a BFA at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, OH he furthered his education and received his MFA at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in Edwardsville, IL. He has gone on to teaching ceramics at multiple locations and his work has been exhibited throughout the United States in exhibitions and the highest quality craft shows and art festivals. Jeff has maintained a studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 1988.
Inspired by historical ceramics, primarily Japanese and Chinese but all cultures as well, his ceramic idols include Ogata Kenzan, Shoji Hamada, Michael Simon and Clary Illian. When looking at his pots you can clearly see his love for Chiyogami – the hand printed papers of Japan. His now deceased parents and early teachers, Bill Clark and Joe Zeller, as well as Dan Anderson, after graduate school, supported Jeff throughout his ceramicist career.
Working in a six-week cycle – four weeks for making and two weeks for glazing – Kleckner starts with a sketch and works with wheel thrown porcelain. Using his forms as a guide he then applies glazes, slips, and resists in a manner that reflect his passion for pattern. The clay body is very important to his process, using slips on leather hard clay, resists and oxide washes on raw glaze. Jeff focuses on form, surface, and pattern in hopes to convey beauty and visual tension to his audience. Over time, his pots have evolved by becoming more specific and complex in their concerns. To Jeff, the studio is a refuge,
Clay is not necessarily relaxing. It can be very rewarding, but is a difficult material to work with.
After all of this time working with clay, it still surprises him how much there is left to know; he still learns something new each and every day that he’s in the studio. What keeps Jeff engaged in the making of pots is the rich history and complex process of ceramics. By thinking of pottery as an avenue to explore color, line, surface and form, he has discovered a wellspring of inexhaustible creative opportunities.
One thing that Jeff would like to let people know about his work is that it costs more for him to make work than for what people pay for it, both in his time and energy as well as his economics. He works very hard and dedicates patience and practice to each piece, making sure each is individual and unique; he is not like an industrial or commercial concern.
We appreciate Jeff’s craftsmanship and his attention to detail. His forms are stunning and precise, his decoration is skillfully executed, and his pots are truly a joy to be near.