Oral history interview with J.B. Blunk, 2002 May 16
Blunk, J.B. (James B.), 1926-2002
Adamson, Glenn, 1972-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 61 pages.
Originally recorded on 2 sound discs. Reformated in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 34 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of J.B. Blunk conducted 2002 May 16, by Glenn Adamson, in Inverness, California, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
Blunk speaks about his childhood in Kansas; his studies at UCLA; classes with ceramic artist Laura Andreson; Andreson taking her students to see an exhibition of Japanese potters; Japanese influence and his desire to go to Japan; his service in the United States Army during the Korean War and being stationed in Japan at the end of the war; meeting Isamu Noguchi for the first time at a Mingei ceramic shop; meeting potter Kitaoji Rosanjin through Noguchi's wife, Yoshiko; his apprenticeship with Rosanjin; wedging clay for Rosanjin; his living arrangements at Rosinjin's house; his work for potter Toyo Kaneshige and traveling with him to Bizen, Japan; Blunk's return to California; building a kiln; teaching pottery at a small art school near Santa Monica; meeting his wife and working with her at a children's camp; his work on a sheep ranch and making metal jewelry; his move to Inverness and the abundance of wood there; learning how to use a chain saw while constructing a roof for Gordon Onslow-Ford's home (designed by Warren Callister); the wood he sculpted for his own home; his travels in 1969 and 1970 to Mexico and Macchu Picchu; his bench, "Seating Sculpture, 1968-69," in the exhibition Objects: USA; his Redwood bench sculpture in the California Design exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum; his exhibition at the Bolinas Museum; his method of making an arch sculpture out of cypress wood, including chiseling the wood with a gouge; his sculpture, "Six Stones," at Stanford University; his use of shoe dye to blacken his sculptures; the personality and tactile qualities in his work; sculpting wet wood; the difficulties of sculpting with eucalyptus and his fondness for redwood; his piece at the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center in Carmel Valley, California; a commission from the Orientation Center for the Blind, Albany, California; and the 1994 forest fire that threatened his house. Blunk also recalls Bruce Mitchell and Warren Callister.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with J.B. Blunk, 2002 May 16. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Transcript available online.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
J.B. Blunk (1926-2002) was a woodworker from Inverness, California.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001