In 1980, Jeff and his wife, Donna, established Lockbridge Pottery in southern West Virginia between Beckley and Lewisburg by turning the abandoned country schoolhouse into a pottery studio and home. Jeff draws inspiration from a myriad of sources, including his family, customers’ ideas, animals, dreams, music, and other cultures. He occasionally decorates pieces with ancient Chinese Sung Dynasty peonies and lotus patterns. The idea for a wheeled teapot came from the Han Dynasty rolling figurines. Diehl has looked to Anasazi and other Native American earthenware for patterns and such specialty items as rattle mugs. The exquisite glazes Jeff creates from raw materials make his finished pots true masterpieces. His pottery has been shown at the prestigious Smithsonian Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. and included in museums in West Virginia and South Korea. He has been awarded numerous craft fellowships and has received merit awards, as well as, awards of excellence in several of West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s exhibitions.
''I was born with clay in my blood,' states Diehl matter-of-factly. His great-grandfather worked as a potter in Germany and his grandfather had a studio in New Jersey. Diehl remembers playing with his grandfather's discarded pot shards as a child. His formal ceramic education began at Berea College in Kentucky. He studied in the college's ceramic apprenticeship program for five years and apprenticed for a year in Germany, near where his great-grandfather lived.
'Pottery is still exciting for me. It's never like a job,' muses Diehl, as he surveys a shelf stacked with beautiful vases, platters, bowls, and fountains. Diehl has built a successful studio, a loving family, and a legacy as one of West Virginia's best-known potters.
A new technique that Jeff has created called Acoustic Pottery™ has become extremely popular with his clients. The technique involves a similar approach to that of Masura Emoto's Water Crystal Photography. Jeff uses zinc silicate crystals in the glazing process and plays music in the kiln room during the whole of the firing. The results are incredible crystal patterns that adhere in form to vibrations created by the music. From Mozart to Michael Jackson, Jeff has experimented with just about every style of music you can imagine. Customers have sent him specific requests for Acoustic Pottery made with a song of their choosing – from the first dance at a wedding, a song to commemorate the birth of a child, or a song that keeps the memory of a dear friend alive.