Josh Lindamood: Drawn back to the earth with ceramics
Josh Lindamood, like many people in East Tennessee, feels very strongly about his farming roots. He commutes to the Oak Ridge office weekdays from the family farm in Greenback.
“My mother and father came from farming families. Their parents worked together, so that’s how my parents met one another—and here I am!” said Lindamood, senior program specialist.
With farming comes hard work. His parents held down full-time jobs and then went home to look after cattle and tend huge vegetable and tobacco plots. “Farming is a 365-day-a-year job. You can’t just get up and leave,” he said. So, too, has Lindamood juggled jobs, school work and farm chores.
Even his sideline—ceramics—ties back to his agrarian roots. Items picked up in the fields, such as grasses, leaves and mosses, inspire designs on his decorative pots and mugs; their imprints give texture to the clay. Colors and patterns ever-present in the rural landscape sweep across serving platters and plates.
As a child, Lindamood wandered across the acreage to chase ducklings, play with rabbits and catch tadpoles. He looked after the horses and burros.
“I had free range—just like the ducklings,” he recalled. “It was a great learning experience, and looking back, it is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. The country life becomes part of you. Working in clay is like working in the garden—the feel of the clay makes me reminisce about the smell of the freshly turned soil in the garden.”
These days Lindamood creates nature-inspired motifs for utilitarian wares and turns them into objects of beauty.
He uses his dual bachelor’s degrees in business management and art, earned at Maryville College. “I was the only student who was crossing the line between business and art. I had two different thesis advisers,” he recalled.
Lindamood helped coordinate a senior art exhibition at the Clayton Center for the Arts, pulling in his business management expertise and selecting ceramics, hand-dyed fabrics and furniture for display. It was a grand challenge because he was holding down a full-time job at Lowe’s and a second job as pianist at Knob Creek Baptist Church in Seymour.
His inborn multitasking and time management skills help him execute his assignments at ORAU as part of the Peer Review Team. He guides input of files into PeerNet, ensures reviews are completed on schedule and coordinates travel for reviewers attending reviews and workshops. He also travels to reviews and meetings to serve as on-site support. “In our fast-paced world where we tend to live behind technology, person-to-person interaction leaves a lasting impression in the business community by putting a face with the name,” said Lindamood. He also serves as a member of the STEMpacters team and assists with outreach to students at three universities.
Experimenting with glazes
“Most of my pieces are thrown on the potter’s wheel. I have two potter’s wheels and two kilns in my studio,” said Lindamood. For a long time, the design was about functionality. As he transitions into a master craftsman, he sees his designs shifting away from utilitarian pots and moving toward decorative pieces of art. He sculpts the clay to appeal to his sense of aesthetics.
“I have always been in love with colors and patterns,” said Lindamood, reminiscing about his grandmother’s scrap fabric bag kept for her quilting. In fact, both his grandmothers, as well as his aunts and mother, fueled his creativity through their hobbies of quilting, flower arranging and ceramics.
Glazing causes the most joy and frustration because of its intricacy, the variance in chemistry and the way the heat affects the color of the glaze with each firing.
“I’m exploring and experimenting, but things don’t always work out the way I want them to. The rate the temperature increases and the rate the kiln cools make a dramatic difference,” he explained. “For example, I found a recipe for a beautiful red glaze with teal flakes. I mixed a sample of the glaze incorrectly, adding too much of one ingredient. It came out solid mint green,” he said.
While some studios use computerized kilns to regulate temperatures and cooling patterns, Lindamood is managing his own kilns manually. “I’m hoping and praying to the kiln gods that everything goes correctly. It’s a labor of love,” he said.
The genuine article
“Eventually, my goal is to have a studio where artists of all materials can work and collaborate, as well as a gallery to help artists sell their work,” said Lindamood. He is taking small steps to realize his dream by building friendships with craftsmen in Gatlinburg, Nashville, Asheville, Chattanooga, New York and Seattle.
“It’s amazing to sit down and learn from them. They are very open and willing to share almost anything from their years of experience, whether it be business or art related,” said Lindamood. He stays connected with students and instructors he met during the two summer months he spent at Chautauqua School of Art in 2016. The famed New York state art school, which attracts internationally recognized artists, was an awakening.
“Chautauqua was mind-boggling, crazy, a whirlwind. Musicians, dancers and visual artists were running around everywhere. Although we were separated into our different disciplines during the day, we congregated in the evenings. It was nice to see the harmony and diversity of the students and residents from all different cultures,” he said.
The Chautauqua experience reinforced his commitment to the value of handcrafted goods. “I want to create one-of-a-kind items. They may have imperfections, but that makes them unique and beautiful in their own way,” said Lindamood.