Given two retired artists and a turn of the last century store and what can you get?
One answer is Jefferson Street Studios. Bob and Helene Davis settled in Paducah after Bob retired from a career in telecommunications research in New Jersey. They had been looking for several years for a low cost of living location where Helene could dye and sell her hand-dyed fabrics and Bob could make his specialty porcelain beads. They found it in a neighborhood former Appliance, Piggly Wiggly and Kroger’s store in an artist friendly town accustomed to the idea that working, living and having a gallery in the same building was not a violation of human nature.
Helene with a BFA from the University of Florida began her artistic career as a full time potter but later after developing an interest in quilting and hand-dying for her fabric switched to Art Quilting and selling her hand-dyes.
Bob developed his process for making distinctive patterned porcelain beads as an unexpected result of disposing of unwanted beads at a Florida street fair in the early 1970’s. He had made the beads thinking they would enhance his wife’s hanging planters but discovered that knotting beads into a hanger was too time consuming for the amount of value they produced. When they all sold quickly, Bob brained stormed different approaches to making beads with a potter friend and before long, both friends were challenging each other to develop new and interesting beads using multiple porcelain clays with wonderful results.
Bob eventually moved to New Jersey to take a research position in Telecommunications but after retiring to Paducah he decided to resurrect his interest in porcelain beads with encouragement and facilities of the Paducah School of Art and Design.
Bob’s bead making technique combines ideas from glass lampworking, Egyptian pre-glass clay beads and Japanese multi-clay ceramics that is now called Nerikomi and Neriage.
Their work is generally available by appointment at Jefferson Street Studios.