Whether from a bright-eyed child giggling at the sight of a silly frog, a serious collector
scrutinizing a particularly clever teapot, or a husband just along for the ride,
I will invariably hear the question...

"So how long you been doing this?"


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 days.

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 this?

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.