Archie Bray Rober Harrison sculpture

The Archie Bray Foundation A World Class Institute for Ceramic Arts

“Much of life is about asking questions and searching for meaning.  Yet in the end, it is the search itself that is meaningful.  Thus, the more insightful the questions being asked, the richer one’s life becomes.  In a significant way, this journey for many people begins with a lump of clay.”                                                                                                                                                          Chris Staley,  author  “The Challenge of Making Pots At A University” Ceramics Monthly, Feb. 1996

If you are a serious ceramic artist you know The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana is a world class leading ceramic arts institution dedicated to creative growth and inspiring all that love the ceramic arts.  For those who have experienced The Bray as Resident Artists, you know that it is a life changing.

Archie Bray Rober Harrison sculpture
Aruina a permanent sculpture by ceramic artist Robert Harrison installed in 1988

The Archie Bray Foundation is located on the grounds of what was once the Western Clay Manufacturing Company,  a brick manufacturer, founded in 1905.

Archie Bray Foundation historic brickyard
Historic Brickyard is listed on the National Register of Historic Places                              photo by J.David

The brick yard has not produced since 1961, but the historic building serves as a soulful and reverent reminder of the history and passion of Archie Bray.

In 1951 Archie Bray, a member of one of the families that owned the brick company,  started The Pottery, which was the first step in fulfilling his dream to create a place that anyone seriously interested in ceramics could come and learn, share and be inspired.

Kurt Weiser teaching a summer 2014 workshop
Kurt Weiser teaching a summer 2014 workshop

Since 1952, the Bray has drawn more than 600 ceramic artists from around the world to work, share their skill and inspiration.

Do you know the names and works of Bernard Leach,  Shoji Hamada,  Rudy Autio,  Peter Voulkos,  or Ruth Duckworth?  Akio Takamori,  Richard Notkin,  Chris Staley,  Robert Sperry? I see blank looks on some faces!  OMG, I have a lot of work to do.  These are incredible ceramic artists who have influenced and continue to shape ceramics arts today. Perfect idea for another blog posting.

The Archie Bray Foundation Studio building
David and Ann Shaner Studio building on The Bray campus                                                                       photo by  J.David

The Shaner Studio Building and Summer Studios are open to the public.  The Bray is where you are going to find the ceramic artists and influencers of today AND tomorrow.

Sam Chung at the Bray
Sam Chung working in the Voulkos Visiting Artist studio July 2014                                                          photo by Rachel Hicks
 Director Steve Young Lee decorating a vase in the studio
Resident Artist Director Steve Young Lee decorating a vase in the studio                                         photo by Rachel Hicks
Resident Artist Chris Dufala photo by Rachel Hicks
Resident Artist Chris Dufala                                                                                                                photo by Rachel Hicks
Summer resident Lauren Gallaspy
Summer resident Lauren Gallaspy                                                                                           photo by Rachel Hicks
Archie Bray Bash Annual Gala Fundraiser
Bray Bash                                                                                                                                     photo by Rachel Hicks

The Bray has an annual fundraiser that is an absolute blast. The Bray Bash weekend is always the last weekend in July.

I’ll keep you posted on when you can register. The fishing is great on the Missouri River that time of year, so you’ll need at the very least, a long long weekend!


Sales Gallery at Archie Bray Foundation
Bray Sales Gallery                                                                                                                     photo by Rachel Hicks

The Bray Sales Gallery has a presence online as well.

A special thanks to Rachel Hicks, Director of Communications, for the images,  Steven Young Lee, Resident Artist Director,  for his wonderfully kind demeanor and support of what I am doing with Lets Get Original, and Mel Griffin for her time spent with me in her studio.  I am looking forward to featuring many Bray resident artists and alums on Lets Get Original!


July 2014 family of deer that live on the edge of The Bray in the woods
July 2014 family of deer that live on the edge of The Bray in the woods                               photo by Rachel Hicks

When I visited the Bray campus mid-August,  I fumbled with my phone and missed getting a photo of a family of deer that was feeding near the Potter’s Shrine.  Rachel Hicks was kind enough to send me a great shot of the deer family that the artists see almost daily on campus.

Gotta love Montana!

Next blog postings will be from Paris!  I’m going to Maison Objet with several designer friends. I’ll report back with some cool finds.

After a couple Paris postings, I will feature David Ryan.  You won’t want to miss it Feature Posting!  Here’s a sneak peak.


Sword by David Ryan
Sword by David Ryan