Ben Betourne

My love for ceramics began very young as my mother is an artist herself would give me bits of her modeling clay to play with. Later on while I was in elementary school my mother found and enrolled me in a after school program with a local potter. It was there at Richard Carters Studio that I really started to make what I wanted to make.

Once I got high school I knew I wanted to take a ceramics class. My sister who was a few years ahead had already been in the class and told me all about it. The teacher was Mel Simpson and he was probably most responsible for my skill in ceramics. While in Vintage High, all four years i had at least one ceramics class a day and would be Mel's teaching assistant for another class. It was amazing, I would spend most of my day throwing on the wheel. When i wasn't throwing I'd be mixing glazes up or mixing up fresh clay in the pugmill. These years where crucial for me as I spend well over 1000 hours getting very good at throwing on a wheel.

After high school I knew what I wanted and had some skills but I didn't know where to go. I wasn't confident I could go to large art school where ceramics could be my focus. I ended up going to a large junior collage in San Luis Obispo Called Cuesta. At Cuesta there was a large art department and well set up ceramics studio. There I was able to work with Dave and Susan Wulfeck. They showed me how to refine my work and explore new shapes and spaces with clay. Dave also taught me how to make large things consisting of multiple pieces. Cuesta is a great school and I'm glad I had the experience.

After a few years (really to many) of not doing anything with clay I decided I wasn't going to be fulfilled in life unless I was throwing. I regret taking all the time off I did but now was the time. I enrolled at the Napa Valley Junior Collage because they had recently build a brand new facility for ceramics and I had heard good things about the instructor Rhue Bruggeman. Rhue is very skilled thrower. He brought a level of refinement to my skills that I had been striving for.

Recently throw friends I was able to connect with another local potter named Tom Collins. He has had an amazing career in ceramics. Started schools across the country and most importantly made a living doing what he loves. As one of our modern ceramics fathers hes forgotten more about ceramics then I've learned so far. His studio mostly works in porcelain so this how I've come to love porcelain work. Tom explained to me how its not much different then stoneware but it is more refined. this means smaller particles of ceramic in a piece which means when fired those particles are pulled even closer together making a more durable pieces of art.