A Tragic Day for Jeff May Art

March 20, 2019
A Tragic Day for Jeff May Art
Jeff May

Each day I wake up with a fair amount of anticipation for what the day will bring. I put in long hours, but it seems effortless as I press forward into my passion for making art.   My day had started just as any other although, perhaps later than most days, as I was up late working the night before.  I went to the studio and built a fire and returned to the house for a second cup of coffee and answer a few emails. I then told my wife goodbye, and stepped out of my front door with only a few steps before realizing that my studio was on Fire. Flames forcefully rushing out of the front roll up door, I quickly shouted back to my wife to call 911 and ran straight out to see what, if anything could be done.  You can never fully prepare for a moment like this and in a panic I began to quantify what I could save. My truck was parked directly in front of the shop and so I rushed to get in and get it started, but It would not start. It had been sitting for a few days without being started, and as with most diesels, they can  be difficult to start when cold. I can remember quickly praying the truck would turn over and eventually it did although sluggish, it escaped with only some minor heat damage to the front end.  By then my son Dylan had came out and moved our ATV out and away from the structure and I was able to run into one of the open lean to’s to grab a few small sculptures and three of my primary carving saws.  By this time ,the walls of the structure were now a deep orange as the heat began to build.  From this point, all I could do was to stand back and watch 20 years of tools and a significant collection of both completed art and art in progress burn to the ground.

 The following weeks have been incredibly emotional, I think I cried more in that first week following the fire than I had in the previous 20 years combined, but not necessarily tears of pain so much as tears of gratitude and thankfulness as so many reached out to pour out love and support over me and my family.  Encouraging notes, messages on facebook and instagram and meals for what must have been 10 days after the fire.  I am so thankful for all of you who have been there with us in the trenches.

After the shock and awe had subsided we began the enormous  task of documentation and insurance. I’ll spare you the verbal summery only to say that it is not fun, and will take some time to execute.  There was a point about two weeks in, that we had an old version of Microsoft excel crash loosing all of the recorded data for insurance. Needless to say …. extremely frustrating.  

It's now been seven weeks and It’s seems much like an onion peeling back layer upon layer of emotions and frustration as we press forward to rebuild. I have drawn up some new plans, and we have applied for some financing so that we can expand the shop size and upgrade a few pieces of equipment to better execute future projects . Although it’s been tough, I am begining to see that the silver lining as we retool and prepare for a whole new chapter.

Here are some highlights of what’s been accomplished so far:

   - The structure has been completely cleared to bare ground…. and now buried in 3 feet of snow :)

   - Plans drawn for a new structure  

   - Approval by Country for a new structure to be built

   - Submission of  a portion of our Insurance documentation  

   - Replacement of a basic set of tools for Carving

   - A Temporary tent set up for working on our property

   - Building site is prepared, ready begin


Some of whats Ahead:

   - Find subcontractors and suppliers for rebuilding the structure

   - Continue to work on ways to replace tools and equipment and coordinate their arrival so that they are ready for work when the structure is in place

   - Get back to carving projects that I can accomplish with my basic set of tools

   - Organize & Plan for the upcoming show season

          we have decide to cut some shows back to two or three for the remaining 2019 season  

  - Working in clay on some new sculptures, which will be cast in Bronze. we will be offering a precast, so again,  stay tuned by either reaching out directly, or subscribing to our newsletter  


  - Start the new structure estimated timeline …. April with about 6-8 week build out

 I will be sharing some BIG  plans for both the new studio and the direction of my art, some of which was already in motion before the fire but never openly discussed, so I encourage you to make sure your Subscribed to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates as we rise from the ashes and rebuild.  

The last thing that I want to say is  a huge thank you to everyone who has joined in to help us get back on our feet and rebuild. My family and I were blown away that perfect strangers are so willing to help us, and it has only spurred me on, and encouraged me to push through and come back stronger than ever.

We are humbled by people asking for ways that they can help and for those that wish to,  here are some links below:


    This account was set up within hours of the fire by our neighbor Tracy Johnson, and we are truly grateful for all of you have have contributed  


   This is a list set up through amazon that allows people to purchase smaller tools that need replacement and they will automatically be removed form the list as they are purchased, and then shipped directly to me.  

Physical Help

    If you live within the greater Coeur d alene Area and want to help out, I’d encourage you to shoot me an e-mail with the skills and or tools that you have so that I can coordinate with the various aspects of the rebuild process


               Rough and finish

          Concrete Floor

       Acid stain and seal floor

          Minor plumbing

       Two sinks


          Making of a:

               Project table (5 x 8)

               Benches / Chop saw station


               Roofing Asphalt shingle

               Fabrication of some jigs

               Air system installation

               Dust collection system installation