Nostalgia for the old days won’t solve our current environmental and social problems, but recognizing things we value from our history can help.
A quick survey of American history reveals a few things Americans value about themselves: our “rugged individualism”, our pride in craftsmanship, our resourcefulness. We are proud of the beautiful land that makes up this country and memorialize it in “America the Beautiful”. We value the idea that so many came to this Land of Opportunity with nothing, worked hard and built a life for themselves and their families. We value the idea of community, the idea that a group of people can work together toward a common goal.
Some of these values and images are tarnished in recent years, but we can dust them off to address the issues that face us and to shape our future. Often returning to the images we hold of ourselves as Americans returns us to practices and ways of living that didn’t do the kind of damage to the environment that today’s lifestyle does.
Pottery is one of those practices. Pottery is the oldest synthetic material. Made from clay, it comes from the earth and returns to it. No wonder that ancient civilizations, including Greece and the Israelite civilization of biblical fame, envisioned human beings coming from the same substance: from earth to earth. Clay is relatively inexpensive and widely available. People around the world have perfected their skill to produce durable, beautiful vessels, both for aesthetic pleasure and for use in important tasks. No early American home was complete with its pottery, bowls, mugs, butter churns, pickle barrels and more.
There is something reassuring about pottery in its beauty, its practicality and usefulness, the fact that it lives so harmoniously with the natural world from which it comes. It is a thoughtful, resourceful, aesthetic use of material the earth provides in abundance. Each piece, no matter how small, is an individual expression of molding the raw materials of our world into something not just beautiful but useful.
That beautiful, comforting practicality is what Bryan Becker Clay Werks pottery represents. Handmade in Hartland, Wisconsin, this pottery is for those with a taste for handmade and custom-crafted works “that captivate and inspire”. From mugs to wine goblets to a beautiful series of bowls with thoughtful sayings (or to personalize), Bryan Becker adds to a rich tradition of American craftsmanship and encourages our appreciation for our earth in the pieces he creates from it.
The Wisconsin location hosts the work of more than 100 other artists from around the country who specialize in works of clay, metal, glass, wood, silver, mixed media and unique jewelry. Bryan Becker Clay Werks Inc. was established in 1983. It is a full service pottery studio and Gallery, housed in a 1928 dairy barn, adding to the sense of earthiness, practicality and traditional craftsmanship one gets from the work itself.
Bryan Becker Clay Werks site describes the process of creation this way: “Each bowl is hand thrown on the potter’s wheel by ceramic artist Bryan Becker. The clay used is called “high fire” stoneware. After a slight drying time, a special tool is used to inscribed the message around the rim of the bowl. Because every bowl is handcrafted, one at a time, names and dates can be added. The bowl is later trimmed of excess clay and signed by the artist. After its initial firing (bisque), the bowl is glazed with one of six custom colors, and fired to 2354 degrees F. This “high fire” process gives each piece its lasting durability, ready for food, dishwashers, microwaves and home ovens. It can also be enjoyed for years as a decorative keepsake.”
Perhaps your piece will last for centuries, even, as pottery so often does, telling its story to many future generations.
We are fortunate to carry a number of Bryan Becker’s pieces at the Green Box Boutique. Stop in to view beautiful bowls and other pottery pieces. And when you’re in Hartland, Wisconsin, stop in and say “hi” to Bryan Becker for us!