Solo Show online

My solo show at MudFire Gallery, just outside of Atlanta, opens today. The show, titled “Pursuing Perfection”, is online and viewable here.

MudFire has really done a fantastic job with presenting the show. They also did some original writing about my work, which I very much appreciate. Here is a blurb, hope you enjoy the show…

“Nicholas Bivins is on an aesthetic quest for a personal definition of perfection in his studio pottery. He is exploring a tension between being handmade and looking handmade, between a geometric precision and evidence of the hand.

Nick’s show includes a few of his signature sets, as well as individual functional pieces such as cups, pourers, bottles and more. His minimalist designs are intended to help studio pottery continue forward as relevant in our contemporary society.”



Fellowship Show

This past year has been a fantastic whirlwind of an experience as an artist-in-residence at the Bray. I have been extremely fortunate to have received the Matsutani Fellowship, which culminates with the Fellowship Show that opened last Thursday. Here is the link to the show on the Bray webpage. There are a few pieces available for purchase.

Some images of the layout, and a few of the finished pieces…





In receiving the Fellowship, I felt I had a responsibility to honor the opportunity I was being provided. I was given the time, facility, community, and funds to further develop my work. So I really tried to run with it, and push as hard as possible. This push is what lead me to start working with the CNC-Router, Automotive Paint, and now Rubber. Its my hope that all of this effort is visible in the work on display.

I’ve discussed the CNC/Auto Paint process in prior posts, so I won’t go in to that now. The use of Rubber is the latest development, and all of the pieces in the show have it. Here are a few birds-eye view shots…



Casting Silicone Rubber into the recesses where the pots fit is my effort towards taking the function of the trays as far as possible. The rubber isn’t visible when all the pots are in place, but once a piece is removed, the colored rubber is revealed. When the pot is returned to its home, the feeling on how the pot meets the tray is very smooth and cushioned.

I’ve expanded upon the observation of what it feels like to return a pot to its place in the tray, with how the entire tray meets the pedestal/table it is set upon. I’m doing this by casting the feet on the underside of the tray out of a Urethane Rubber. I switched to using Urethane Rubber because my supplier, Smooth-On, recommended it for durability. The Urethane Rubber is a Shore Harness of 30, which means very soft. Its a little hard to see, but in the detail photo below you can see how the foot compresses just a little bit under the weight of the tray.


The end result is that the trays become self-leveling, with never rock, and will not slide. Its also a very similar feeling to how the entire tray lands on a surface as compared to how it feels to replace a pot in its recess.

And finally, as part of the show the Bray published a full-color catalog. Susannah Israel was brought in to serve as the Jental Critic. She interviewed all five of the Fellowship artists, and then responded with this splendid essay.

Bivins Fellowship Essay by S Isreal.

So that’s the Fellowship Show. The show will be up at the Bray until September 10th, hope you can stop by to see it.

What a blur

The last two months have been a complete blur of activity, and I just haven’t been spending as much time on the computer. A quick summary of everything that’s been going on…

I gave a brief mention in a prior post that I went down to Santa Fe Clay for a one-day workshop with Mike Jabbur and Tara Dawley. The workshop coincided with our 3-person show ‘Decorum’, that will be up until July 23rd. So if you’re in Santa Fe, I hope you can stop in. Tara did a great job at taking pictures and did a write up on her blog, you can see that here.

After getting back from Santa Fe, it was studio madness getting ready both the summer show here at the Bray and the Red Lodge show that were both up during the 60th anniversary celebration. Here are images of the two new pieces I put in the Bray show…








































As you can see from the aerial photography, I’m now casting colored rubber into the footwells of the trays. The running joke that a fellow Californian made to me, was that the pieces are now earthquake rattle proof. This wasn’t exactly what I had intended, but sometimes I think we just can’t help to deny our roots. Anyways, I have been thinking about the reveal aspect of using these new trays I’ve been making. What happens when the pot is removed from the tray? This rubber solution first provides a bit of a surprise in terms of color. Then it furthers the line of questioning about what materials are used. Finally, the rubber changes the feeling of placing the pots back into their intended places. I have a lot more to say about this topic, that I will get back to in another post.

Moving forward, I also made two wall pieces for the Red Lodge show that was held down at the Bolder Avenue Arts Center. I couldn’t get high quality images in that space, so I will have to post those at a later time. The pieces were “Plates (8)”, and “Tumblers (8)”.

After finishing and installing both shows, the 60th Anniversary Celebration was upon us. It was an absolutely fantastic experience. I got to see a lot of old friends, and make some new ones. I had never been to a live art auction before, and this was almost unbelievable. After all was said and done, the gross was a little over $510,000 for the Bray! The Volkus went for $125,000, the Kaneko for $55,000, and in my opinion the most exciting lot of the evening was the Shaner that went for $22,500.  Totally awesome. The auction was on Friday, then the Bray Bash was on Saturday. The Big Sky Mudflaps played a rockin’ show, and we danced the night away. After talking about how much fun we had, Nicole and I also realized another reason why this community is so great. On the dance floor at the same time, there were old people, young people, every race your could think of, men dancing with women, women dancing with women, men dancing with men…and nobody cared. Everyone was just dancing their hearts out after a long week. Here are a couple pics from the dance floor, and one of me and Nicole.


































After the event ended, I think everyone was ready to unwind a little bit. Nicole and didn’t really have much of a chance, since we needed to move apartments. I like moving just as much as the next person, so that was really a chore I was not excited about. However, our new apt is totally sweet, overlooking downtown Helena with a view of Mt Helena directly behind it. Huge upgrade to the street level place we lived in this past year.

After/during the move, my Dad came to town which also coincided with my birthday. Being the very generous and gracious people he and his wife are, they helped me and Nicole finish cleaning our apt. What great people! The reward was that I was able to go fishing all day with my Dad on my birthday, then went out for an awesome steak dinner at place out in Clancy called Chubby’s. One good photo, one average cell phone photo…























What an awesome time! It doesn’t seem to stop either. Nicole and I fly to LAX tonight to meet up with her sister and her fiance, then we’ll all head down to San Diego to meet up with her family for a serious 4th of July party on Ocean Beach. I keep saying to myself in somewhat disblief, ‘this is my life?’.

After SD, back in Helena for a couple quick days, then I’m headed out to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for a Design/Architecture conference. I am very fortunate in being awarded a fellowship do go to the conference, so that is just going to be great.

That’s the “quick” update. Thanks for reading, catch ya on the flip side.

Trays, Planters, Beer, Santa Fe, and American Craft.

I admit it, I’ve fallen off blogging for the last 3 weeks. There’s just been so many things happening. To catch up from the last post, the new silver trays are, well, really silver. I’m interested in using silver for a few reasons, but mostly because I can’t make a glaze that color. Here’s a quick pic from the studio…












Moving forward, the beginning of May was the Mothers Day Planter Sale here at the Bray. It was quite an event, we even had a petting zoo. Here is a Bray Blog post about it. It was a bit more special Mothers Day for me and my mom, because she came out to visit. We had a really fantastic time, and played in the studio quite a bit. What a cool mom I have, she brought bisque ware from CA, so we ran a glaze kiln while she was here. A pic of my mom (at right) looking at all the planters…












There are a lot of preparations happening for the upcoming he 60th Anniversary Celebration. And one of them is beer! Our local brewery, Blackfoot River Brewing, is making a very special limited edition Strong Belgian Ale. ‘Bray Brew’ is the working title, and they needed volunteers to help bottle the beer. Now that’s my type of volunteer work! A full writeup with pictures is here on the Bray Blog. It was really entertaining.

The next piece of news I’d like to share is that I’m going to be part of a 3-person demonstration at Santa Fe Clay with Mike Jabbur and Tara Dawley on Saturday June 11th. There are just a few spots left, if you’d like to take the demo, please contact Santa Fe Clay at 505-984-1122. The demo is in conjunction with our show “Decorum”, which opens on Friday June 10th. We will all be there, and I hope if you’re in Santa Fe I’ll see you there. Here is the image of the mailer…











Finally, one more bit of good news. I’m mentioned in the upcoming issue of American Craft. Actually, I’m in there a couple of times. First, the show I was just talking about at Santa Fe Clay is picked as one of the “Shows to See”. Later in the issue, I have a quote and an image of my work in the article about the Bray. Here is the link to the article.

Well, that’s the big update. Thanks for reading, more to come soon.

Staff pics

This past winter I was very excited to be invited to show my work at Northern Clay Center for their Holiday Exhibition. I must admit that during the preparation for the show, I had dreadful thoughts that I wouldn’t sell a single piece. Why? Because Minnesota has a special role in our field of Ceramics, jeez there’s even an aesthetic named after it, Mingeisota. If you google ‘mingeisota’, the top hit is Warren MacKenzie’s wiki page. The fourth hit? Jeff Oestreich’s page on AKAR. I feel I share some geometric tendencies with J. Oestreich, and I very much admire his pots, but I definitely do not work within the Mingei framework as Jeff and Warren do. If anything, I deny quite a bit of it with my efforts to remove evidence of handwork rather then celebrate it.

Anyways, I was just pumped when I found out my work was moving, and then just today my work was posted as one of the ‘Staff Pics’. Su-weet! Thanks to Emily for the selection, and to Karen McPherson (Sales Gallery and Special Events Manager) for all the help and support. Here is the link…