I come from a particularly gifted
family. Each more talented
than the last, especially my sisters and brother. I'm just lucky.
Somehow, I was able to pick up from my loving parents some valuable
tidbits concerning courage and self-reliance. There seemed to
be no reason to be afraid to try something new. Anything. Then
my uncles showed me how much fun it was to actually work with
my hands. Anything, it seemed, was possible.
I think it was then that I started
to become a potter. Gathering
experience with different materials, joinery, proportion, design,
scale, color, etc. And having a good time doing it. My parents
continued to afford me the opportunity to experience all kinds
of cultural stuff. Some of it was awesome, some of it I had absolutely
no use for. But at least I became aware of it.
Toward the end of the high school
days I had begun to collect woodworking tools. I thought I could
put together some original furniture designs or at least have
fun trying. Learning. Playing. I made a few nice things and kept all my fingers. I also decided to
put down the cello in favor of the five-string banjo. That was
the beginning of a wild journey.
I took a few odd jobs to support
my new hobby. Mostly driving jobs. Among other things I'd drive
a taxi cab, a retail milk route, a big dumptruck, and even a
tractor trailers across the country to support me while the
boys and I learned to play bluegrass music. We were having a
great time. We started making a pretty good sound and doors
were beginning to open. We auditioned and won a contract to
play at a big amusement park for a couple of summers. That was
one big party. In 1985 I was 29 years old. People Express was
flying to England for $99. We went in the early spring and stayed
for 6 months playing on the streets all over Europe. We were
"buskers". What an experience.
Back home I started doing odd
jobs as a handyman. This continued until I had a successful
home-improvement business keeping me busy. I did carpentry,
plumbing, electrical, siding, roofing and design work. Just
me and the dog.
I stumbled sideways into clay in 1992. It looked like fun. It
was. I figured I could do it. I did a little research by reading
books and visiting some established potters. I attended a few
workshops covering assorted topics of interest. I began assembling
a clay studio here at the house, building much of the equipment
myself. I built my own potters wheel and a small downdraft car-kiln.
I also built various work tables, wedging table, shelves, spray
booth and a radical new design in slab-rollers. Almost all of
the materials for the entire studio was collected from salvaged
materials. Love that junk yard. And by 1996, I was working in
my own studio as a full time claydude. No more driving to the
job. I was already there.
It is quite apparent to me that
whatever you might be doing, you are drawing from all the experiences
that you've ever had. I bring to the clay studio elements of
design that I have collected all over, throughout all my short
Thus far my forms are born of
images lying in memories of all what I thought I saw. I am currently
challenged by the teapot form and cold-blooded creatures such
as frogs, lizards, turtles and fish inspire me to create new
species spawning from the depths of my particular brand of dementia.
I've also brought to the studio the geometric lines that my
years as a carpenter has provided as well as the visually appealing
fluidity and proportion seen in the ancient architecture of
the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. Clay is a magical substance.
How could such a benign material be made so alive. Wheel-throwing,
slab construction, and hand-building all provide parts, in many
instances, that are assembled into the finished piece. Slips
and glazes are applied to the greenware and then singled-fired
to temperature in the kiln. I love the idea that I choose to
spend my time venting artistically and when I'm gone, my work
could possibly endure for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.
So how long have I been doing
All my life.
David Bellar has built himself
a cozy little home and studio right in the thick of the historic
Catawba Valley Pottery tradition in Hickory, N.C.