Dr. Bill Heyduck of Heyduck Stoneware in Charleston, Ill., gives his job title as "owner, manager and only employee." He could also add painter and his current role as award-winning ceramics artist to that list. He also considers himself retired, following a long career as an educator.
"I taught school for 41 years," he says. "I was a traveling art teacher for several small-town schools, an art supervisor and, from 1966 to 1995, a member of the art faculty at Eastern Illinois University."
When Bill went to Penn State to complete his doctorate, he discovered he was required to take another art medium course. He didn’t want to take painting again; he wanted to try something different. And that choice changed his life.
"I chose a ceramics class, and I haven’t painted since," he says. "I found out that was where I belonged."
So when he returned to Eastern after completing his doctorate in 1974, Bill began teaching ceramics. And a question from a ceramics student set him on the path to a new world as an award-winning artist and entrepreneur.
He set up his business, Heyduck Stoneware, in the ’70s, while he was still teaching. And so for nearly 20 years, he taught at Eastern and ran his ceramics business concurrently. When he retired from teaching in 1995, Bill was able to devote more time to his chosen art.
Although Heyduck Stoneware offers many functional ceramics intended for home use, some of his new creations are causing excitement in the world of ceramics. Lately, he has been making sculptural pots and large ceramic masks, which appear to have Mayan or Aztec influences. Many of his sculptural pots are in the shape of birds, with the bird’s legs as the stand and the bird’s body and head as the pot. These items not only represent a new phase in his pottery, they have also been accepted into ceramics exhibits and competitions.
In fact, this year he was invited to exhibit in a prestigious national show –the 15th San Angelo National Ceramics Competition in California. He not only was honored with an exhibit, but his entries in the competition were purchased. Also this year, his work was accepted into the Mid-States Craft Exhibition at the Evansville Museum of Art and Science at Evansville, Ind. Ceramic pieces were chosen from work by ceramic artists in 13 Midwestern states, and Bill received a merit award for his work.
His many honors and achievements also include a feature in the summer 2003 issue of Studio Potter magazine. Studio Potter is published twice yearly, and focuses on critical issues of aesthetics, technology, history and personal development in the international community of ceramic artists and craftspeople. Bill was one of only 20 Illinois artists to be featured in the issue.
Does this sound like retirement to you?
To see Bill’s creations stop by his shop, Heyduck Stoneware, at 1604 Madison Street in Charleston. But be sure to call ahead (217-348-7808) – he may be off somewhere winning another award!
by Margaret Friend
The complete article appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.