Our grounds house a blacksmithing forge with 6 anvil stations; a pottery studio with 6 electric wheels, 3 electric and 2 gas kilns, and plenty of workspace; and a glass studio with 6 hothead torches. Two multi-use spaces are also utilized for a variety of arts classes including jewelry making, painting, textile arts, basketry, drawing and more. We value the small class size that facilitates an intimate creative experience and cultivates the individual’s connection to the artistic community.
Chris Pollins Shackleford, founding Education Director at the center describes the creation of the crafts school: “The Jacksonville Center offered its first classes in the summer of 2005, having secured funding for from the Department of Agriculture the February before that. Lee Chichester was our president at the time and Martha Sullivan was the chair of Education.
During that very short amount of time, we not only built the blacksmith shop, restored the creamery and retrofitted the glass studio but also created the class scheduling for the year, recruited the teachers and published our first catalog.
The pole barn that serves as Jax’s blacksmith shop was built under advisement of both Elmer Roush and my dad, John Pollins. We built what they agreed to build, bought what materials they said to buy and on opening day had about a dozen blacksmiths come and build the forges, layout table and shop. Volunteers fed the crew and it happened like only magic does.
The creamery was gross, but with the inspired talent of Don George and the pottery genius of Martha Sullivan, we had another work party and built all the tables, shelves, etc. in a matter of days. The kiln shed happened a little later and the two kilns were independent ventures (grants paid for materials, students paid the teacher, and we got the kiln as a result).
The glass studio was the mastery of glass artists Kenan Tiemeyer and Jennie Baxter, and the handiwork, perseverance and humor only Wayne Bradburn and Dave Brown could provide.
The residence was built after the fact and was outfitted with custom-made dressers from Don George and donated beds. Different types of wood were used in each bedroom and we even talked about naming the rooms for the wood used in each. It was used as a residence for two summers and, out of financial need, leased to the health clinic shortly before I left.”
- Chris Pollins Shackleford, 2010