Montana Handmade stoneware pottery by Mountain Arts Pottery in Bozeman.
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Handmade stoneware pottery hand thrown by Mountain Arts Pottery in Bozeman, Montana.

About Mountain Arts Pottery

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Address

80795 Gallatin Road
Bozeman, MT 59718

Phone

(888) 600-8230
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Potters HandsLog CabinRed Hot KilnPotters WheelDave & Jennie

Our Story

Mountain Arts Pottery began as a small backyard enterprise started by David and Jennie Lockie in Bozeman, Montana. In the 1970’s, the Lockies had owned a successful business in the excavation industry, but in 1979 the industry collapsed when interest rates soared to over 20%. David decided to sell the equipment to pay off the indebtedness. It took fifteen years, but by the grace of God, they paid off their debts without turning to bankruptcy as so many did in those years.

When times were good, Jennie had given Dave a set of pottery lessons at a local studio. Being good with his hands, Dave excelled in throwing pottery. With no work, four children to feed, and massive debt, Dave and Jennie prayed for guidance as to whether pottery could be a viable business for them. Several market ideas came to them, and in 1980, Dave converted the chicken coop in the backyard to a pottery studio. When a large order arrived from Yellowstone National Park, Dave built a kiln from instructions in a book and Mountain Arts Pottery was born.

After two decades of loading pottery and displays into a trailer for coast-to-coast art shows, Dave and Jennie grew weary of business on the road. Again, they prayed for guidance to find a Yellowstone region retail space for the pottery business. In 2003, they came upon a dilapidated log cabin on Highway 191 outside of Bozeman, Montana. After 3 months of hard work and sweat equity, the charming circa 1932 log cabin became home to Mountain Arts Pottery with the retail shop in the cabin and the pottery studio in the little detached garage.

Today, Mountain Arts Pottery shares space with The Coffee Pot Bakery Café, where award-winning cinnamon rolls and signature coffee are served. Visitors enjoy the charm of the Montana log cabin, browse pottery and fine crafts made by Montana artisans, tour the working handmade pottery studio and delight in an extensive menu at the Café.

Pottery Process

Mountain Arts Pottery is a working production custom pottery studio in Bozeman, Montana. Mountain Arts Pottery brings in 20,000 pounds of clay three times a year from Mile Hi Ceramics in Boulder Colorado. Because we fire to a temperature just under 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, we use high fire stoneware clay.

We bring 1000 to 2000 pounds of clay into the studio at a time. The potters will run the clay through our pug mill (which we built 30 years ago). The pug mill brings the clay to a workable consistency. The pug mill also allows us to reclaim the waste clay that has been trimmed off of the pots.

Potters will extract clay from the pug mill, measure it, and cut it to lengths according to the pot that will get thrown. Now the thrower starts the throwing process. Each thrower has a list of items to throw each day.

In our studio we developed a laser unit that is mounted above the pottery wheel. The laser, which works as a measuring device, allows the potter to size each piece without stopping the wheel. The potter is able to produce pots of the same size and consistency. We enjoy some variations because each piece is individually thrown by any of several potters.

After the pots have been thrown, they are transferred to a shelf where they air dry to “leather hard”. This means the pots still have moisture in them, but they are dry enough to handle without becoming misshapen.

Now the potter trims the pots to remove excess clay and smooth the bottom of each pot. At this time, handles and medallions are attached and decorative pieces are hand-etched.

Next the pottery pieces are loaded into the kiln for the first firing. This first firing is called the “Bisque”. Temperatures reach 1500 degrees F and raw clay is transformed to porous rock. The pottery pieces are now referred to as ‘bisque ware’.

Bisque ware is now ready for glazing. Because we want our pottery to be both functional and beautiful; we create glaze formulas for their combined beauty, vibrancy, and durability. All of our glazes are food safe and 100% lead free. Potters will mix gallons of glazing components with water and the glazes are applied entirely by hand. The bottom of each pot is then wiped clean so it does not adhere to the kiln shelves.

Pottery pieces are now ready for the second firing called the “High Fire”. The high fire kiln is loaded and brought to 2300 degrees F, resulting in the soft rock composition of the bisque ware metamorphosing to a hard rock composition. In addition, the chemical make up of the glazes transforms to the vibrant colors of the finished stoneware pottery.

There are many steps in the handmade stoneware pottery process and the result is a beautiful, functional work of art. We hope you enjoy using our pottery as much as we enjoy hand crafting it.