Pottery made in Birmingham, Alabama by Hoover, Alabama potter Bryan Jordan. Cookware and Raku Pottery
Bryan Jordan, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee moved to Hoover, Alabama in 1995, at which time he started in the Hoover School System. During his high school years, Bryan studied under art teachers Nelson Grice and Hank Simpson at Hoover High School. He worked with many forms of 3-D art, but found his passion when he started throwing on the pottery wheel.
Bryan continues to develop his own distinct style of high fire stoneware and raku pottery. In 2006 the Jordan family started Wheel Turned Pottery, through which they market Bryan's pottery at arts and craft shows
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Hoover High grad turns passion for pottery into a promising career
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
News staff writer
What Bryan Jordan really wanted to do when he started at Hoover High School was play football and baseball and wrestle, just like he had done for years as a little kid. But he had to cut back on athletics in middle school for fear of aggravating a brain injury that had required three surgeries before he was even a year old. Instead of being an athlete, Jordan was a freshman in search of an elective.
His mother suggested ceramics.
That is how Jordan, 22, now the resident potter at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, found the abiding passion that has become a family business.
"It was just one of those things that turns into a good thing," Jordan said.
Hank Simpson, a sculpture and photography instructor at Hoover High, said Jordan, a special needs student because of his childhood brain injury, struggled at first to figure out things to do, but as his interest grew, he became more focused.
"He was constantly working, constantly striving, wanting to do better things," Simpson said.
Enter the wheel:
Eventually, Jordan's interest gravitated to the wheel, where, with his physical strength and his perseverance, he was able to throw bigger and bigger vessels.
"He knew that he could express himself doing that," Simpson said.
Jordan said once he started learning on the wheel, his teachers knew it was where he needed to be.
The ceramics room eventually became a haven where Jordan would go - sometimes for two or three hours a day - when he was having trouble focusing on other classes.
"It's just really relaxing and very soothing," he said.
With ceramics, Jordan never got discouraged, Simpson said.
"He took something that was a struggle and a challenge for him and stayed with it and persevered to the point where he is a skilled craftsman," he said.
Jordan became a sort of student aide for the ceramics classes, working with the other kids, helping with firings and making glazes.
"At the very end, he was just like having a third teacher in the room because he was so knowledgeable," Simpson said.
One summer during high school, Jordan served as an intern at Sloss Furnaces, working with bronze and iron. He also made molds for bowls that he said are still used today. Later he got a job with Earthborn Studios in Leeds, where he helped run a press, creating pottery from molds for upscale restaurants and hotels.
Then Jordan bought his own pottery wheel. He began selling his work to family and friends while still in high school.
After he graduated in 2006, Jordan began selling at local art and crafts shows.
Laura Jordan, Bryan's mom, said he started slow, doing just a few shows, and found he loved it.
Three years ago he was invited to take up residence in one of Tannehill's craft cabins alongside a quilter, a blacksmith and other artisans, giving demonstrations to weekend visitors and selling his work.
Weekdays, he works from a makeshift studio in the garage of the family home in Russet Woods surrounded by bowls, dishes, vases, mugs and other pottery pieces in various stages of completion. His dad, John, runs the financial side of the business and the business Web site. Laura Jordan has followed her son into ceramics and sculpts small angels and other hand-built figurines.
The Jordan home is, unsurprisingly, filled with pottery. Laura Jordan said the pieces represent the various stages of her son's work, from his very first high school pinch pot to large raku vases.
Laura Jordan said Bryan sells more each year as his work evolves.
"I can see my improvement from my first year of doing it," Jordan said. "I've developed my own style."
Jordan focuses on two types of pottery - functional, high-fired stoneware that is food, microwave and dishwasher safe, and raku, a method he uses for his more decorative pieces in which pottery from the kiln is placed in a metal trash can filled with pine needles, a process that creates swirls of vibrant color and crack-like markings.
Jordan continues to hone his skills through workshops with other potters and long hours in his home studio. Recently, Jordan won first-place in the ceramics division at the Aldridge Gardens "Art in the Gardens" juried art show.
Jordan works almost every day, but he said he doesn't overdo it. "It's hard to discipline myself," he said. "I mean, I'm 22."
Jordan said he's also been working on larger pieces. He said he hopes to begin placing his work in other galleries, but his ultimate goal is to one day have his own studio and gallery.
"I'm so proud of him and what he's done," Simpson said. "He's just a fantastic young man."
Jordan said it's not the profession he would have pictured for himself.
"But here I am today, doing this full time every day of the week, and I love it," he said.