Frank Bradley gives in to his fate | SteamboatToday.com
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Frank Bradley gives in to his fate

If ever a man was denying his fate, it was Frank Bradley. In his garage were two potter wheels and a kiln, but no clay and no muddy hands turning that clay into art.

Bradley, owner of Western Security Systems Inc., was busy.

It wasn’t until a year ago that Bradley decided enough avoidance was enough and he signed up for a pottery class from Gail Holthausen. Then he took another class from Ceramic Design Group owner Jonathan Kaplan.



“For 20 years, I didn’t have time,” Bradley said. “Now, I’m making time.”

The pottery equipment collected slowly. Bradley has been interesting in ceramics since high school when he made a hand-built Chinese dog that he still keeps in his kitchen. After high school, he took more pottery classes and, 20 years ago, bought himself a kick wheel.



The second pottery wheel — this time an electric one — came into his house when his son showed an interest and a talent for the art. But like his father, he moved onto other things and the electric wheel sat in storage next to the manual one.

“I’ve been (pulled) in this direction for a long time,” Bradley said.

Bradley’s son is gone, and his business has grown to the point where he can step back and spend more time in the new pottery studio he built just above his garage.

A semi-circular window sits at knee-height above his electric wheel. As his fingers move the clay into the shape of jars and tea bowls, he can look out the window onto Emerald Mountain.

“It’s a cliche, but making pottery is centering,” he said. “I always liked doing things with my hands, and this is an easy way to lose yourself.

Bradley is interested in simplicity of form, inspired by Asian art.

“I’m not very interested in flowery or ornate designs,” he said.

As he sets a lump of clay on the wheel, Bradley always has a basic design in mind, but finds that “it’s a balancing process between getting what I want and what it wants to become.”

Like many potters in Routt County, Bradley is being encouraged by a new guild of potters called the Steamboat Clay Artisans.

“It grew out of a bunch of us who kept turning up at Jonathan (Kaplan’s) studio,” Bradley said. “We discussed what it would do for all of us.”

The goals of SCA were threefold. First, the guild would organize and make hundreds of bowls for the Soup Bowl Supper, a fund-raiser for LIFT-UP of Routt County. Second, the group would provide a venue for member potters to sell their wares. Third, the group hopes to get the funding together to put on ceramic workshops.

The idea of a sale, such as the one scheduled for this weekend, pushes the clay artisans to produce more pottery than they might on their own, Bradley said. “Everyone is crazy this week. I went by Jonathan’s studio and they were pulling things out of the kiln and ready to fire more.”

The group will hold its second sale featuring the works of 30 SCA potters, including Julie Anderson, Deb Babcock, Sue Binsfeld, Frank Bradley, Jody Elston, Eva Hansen, Rosie MacDonald, Anita Pajon, Eve Partridge, Barb Paulekas, Patti Retz and Mo Valenta. A portion of each sale will be donated to help offset expenses for group activities such as the Soup Bowl Supper.

They will be bringing in a Japanese potter to do a two-hour wheel-throwing demonstration Sunday. An electric wheel manufacturer (Shimpo) has a new electric wheel to demonstrate. The demonstration will take place from 10 a.m. to noon.


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