Monday, July 13, 2015

Bley Pottery – Where Pottery Embodies a Time, Place, and Emotion by Tori Bailey

Clay caked hands held a drying face jug. The expression of a wide toothy grin, blank eyes, and flared nostrils seemed to be in a constant state of change. “Pottery embodies a time, place and invokes an emotional response.  Some pieces can create a feeling of inspiration, nostalgia, and intrigue in how it is made.  Then there are the face jugs.  People either appreciate the artistry or are bothered by the expressions.  The fact is a person will walk away with an emotional reaction.” Its creator, Bruce Bley, shared while he placed the jug on a shelf before covering it with plastic.

Bruce is the owner of Bley Pottery located in Monroe.  His studio is a garage filled with storage boxes, tools, and a myriad of items.  He doesn’t seem to mind the clutter.  A small sections has been dedicated for his pottery wheel, kiln, and a table that holds containers of glazes.  “I’ve dabbled in a lot of mediums ranging from painting to making jewelry.  But, my true passion has been to work with clay.”  That was made possible with the opening of a local art gallery in downtown Monroe. “Wild Child Arts provided the flexibility for me to take classes that did not interfere with my work schedule.”

 He pulls his inspiration from the traditional pottery of the North Georgia Mountains, often referred to as Folk Pottery.  “The mountains have always been an inspiration for me. The history of pottery is steeped in this area. It had a function in everyday life.”

While Bruce enjoys creating face jugs, he also makes a lot of functional pieces.  “This year I’ve tried to broaden what I make.”  Some of the new items include French butter dishes, wine glasses, and lidded casserole dishes. “I’ve allowed my creativity to lend itself to making guineas.  A lot of potters are making roosters and I wanted to try something in the same forum but different.”

His guineas and French butter dishes were a hit at the North Georgia Pottery Festival in Homer. This year has brought recognition for Bruce as one of four featured potters at the Fired Works show in Macon.  “To be selected as a featured potter was a definite high-point for me. This is a national show with a large following. The surreal moment was opening night when I saw three of my four pieces purchased within an hour of the show’s start.”  Bruce became humble in sharing his experience.  “I walked away that night in awe of the response to my work.”

While being a featured artist at a national show was definitely a highlight for him, Bruce is at home doing the pottery shows that have become a part of his annual schedule.  “After you do a few of the shows, it becomes like a social event. Friendships are forged with other potters.  I have also created bonds with some of the people that return each year to purchase a piece for their collection.”  Bruce sees the transaction of selling a piece of his pottery as more than just financial.  “You are creating an experience for the person making the purchase.  We get to talk with each other, share our enthusiasm for pottery, and discuss the inspiration or process for a particular pieces.

Bruce’s pieces are available in several galleries and pictures of his latest creations are often posted on his Bley Pottery Facebook page.  He has made commissioned pieces and donated some of his work to charitable events.


About the Author:

 Tori Bailey is a contributing writer for the Georgia Connector magazine.  She has published two novels, Coming Home – A Second Chance at Goodbye and Ethel’sSong.  Her third book, Love Made from Scratch, is set for release in May, 2016.  She lives in the Athens area with her two rescue cats.  Follow Tori’s Facebook page Tori Bailey Ink or visit her website . Learn more about the author on her Amazon Author Page.