Oct 20, 2022
Jeff Osgood’s bold line of pottery features historic gravestone art that thrills collectors of Halloween, cemetery, and macabre art. His distinctive work is black and white, and filled with gravestones, skulls, crypts, willow trees, and epitaphs. His business name, Clay of the Dead, is a pun of the George A. Romano zombie movies.
How did an Ohioan fall in love with New England gravestones? During middle school, Jeff took a field trip to Boston which included historic cemetery tours. Jeff instantly fell in love the history, craftmanship, and messages of old gravestones. Today you’ll find him taking his students and own kids on cemetery tours.
Jeff worked as a groundskeeper and gravedigger at Wooster Cemetery in Ohio. In college, he majored in film making and created a documentary on a trip he did with his now wife and mother-in-law to collect New England gravestone images. He still uses those images as reference materials and inspiration today.
Collectors flock to his work for a variety of reasons. Some are interested in cemeteries, art, and history. Others cherish his pottery as mementos of deceased love ones. New Englanders have told him it reminds them of home.
His work serves as a memento mori – reminding us to live a rich life. In this way, he finds his work as inspirational, not dark. Creating helps him process the loss of his father. Carving clay is mediative and brings him a feeling of serenity and peace.
Jeff actively seeks out opportunities to collaborate with other artists. He craves how it pushes his craft, and enables things to come into the world that wouldn’t have come out in his solo work. Through collaborations, he’s expanded his work to wheel thrown mugs, urns, figures, jewelry, and linocuts for book covers.
His favorite cemetery symbol is the skull because it commands attention. Jeff ended the interview with his favorite epitaph: “Memento mori. Redeem thy hours. My glass has run and so must yours.” Jeff encourages us to cherish our moments and to be intentional every day.