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Tom Bivins 2018

The Quick Story

Biv

Rocky Mountain Potter and “Raku” artist Tom Bivins, is best known for his vessel forms depicting contemporary trout, river splashes, mountain designs and cool colors. Trained as a production potter and academic fine artist, the work begins with traditional pottery shapes hand thrown on the potter’s wheel. The pots are then altered in subtle paddling, flattening and sculptural touches before the final surface designs and firings are applied. Bivins’ bold designs, colorful surfaces and gift of the flame, Raku-fired agelessness, deliver mountain modern themes with sophisticated rustic elegance. Tom Bivins has a background in teaching and is known for his animated and informative pottery making workshops.

Rocky Mountain Potter and “Raku” artist Tom Bivins, is best known for his vessel forms depicting contemporary trout, river splashes, mountain designs and cool colors. 

 

 

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Raku Quick Definition

By Tom Bivins

Raku (“rac-koo”) pottery refers to a type of ceramic technique where the pottery and artworks are fast-fired and rapidly cooled, achieving dramatic crackling glass, lustrous metallic and raw smoky surfaces. The common Raku practice involves using a kiln to heat the ware to glowing red temperatures before the work is removed with large tongs and placed inside a metal barrel on a nest of newspaper, sawdust or straw. The red-hot pottery lights these materials up fast in an exciting flash of flames. When the artist feels the time is right, a lid is placed on the can extinguishing the flames and the pieces are left to cool in the smoke and smoldering fire.

The origins of Raku date back to sixteenth century Japan, with romantic stories of the royal Raku family, amazing potters, and the ultimate tea ceremonies using Zen spirited Raku fired tea bowls. There are fascinating and thorough accounts of this history online, and in countless reference materials and ceramic journals readily available.

The contemporary world of raku has become one of constant innovation and discovery. This brief explanation of Raku barely scratches the surface of a ceramic style rich in meaning, serendipity and deep emotions. The definition of Raku means something a little different to everyone who interprets it. To this potter the meaning intensifies as I mature and it always feels like peace and joy.

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Biography 1998

Biv

By Yavapai College Student, Verde Campus

Tom Bivins Bio 1998

Earth, air, fire and water. These are the ingredients of pots and human beings alike, and each formula contains also the elements of chance. Do not seek perfection in pots or people, for your search will go un-rewarded and you will miss knowing many good pots and many good people.

The above quote, found in a sketchbook from a workshop, summarizes Thomas Bivins’ attitudes towards life and his work. Tom is currently an adjunct instructor of ceramics and design courses at Yavapai Community College, and works out of a home based studio in Clarkdale, Arizona.

Tom has studied and received degrees from Chaffey College, Orange Coast College, California State University Long Beach and Northern Arizona University. He is one of the new generation potters combining commercial training with a formal education in Fine Art. The result is an expansive body of work with personality destined to be treasured.

Thomas (or “Biv” as his friends know him) has been involved with clay in one way another since the seventh grade. Although he often pursued other passions in life, the pottery and clay world captivated him. Along the journey, Biv credits school and his professional experience as a factory potter and designer for polishing his attitude toward ceramics.

The list of influences is endless; however there are a few that cannot go without mention: John Rothrock from Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Ca. Don Jennings at Orange Coast College, Larry Thomson and the crew from “The Studio Pottery” in Whittier, Ca. and Crispin Gonzales from Chaffey College.

Thomas adheres to the belief that it’s not where you’ve been but where you’re at that matters. Working with Mr. Tom Schumacher, getting to know the students while teaching at Yavapai College, and a wonderful relationship with his wife and daughter have put him in a special place. Asked to describe himself and his work, Tom said, “I’d rather let the work speak for itself.”

Earth air, fire water. These are the ingredients of pots and human beings alike, and each formula contains also the elements of chance. Do not seek perfection in pots or people, for your search will go un-rewarded and you will miss knowing many good pots and many good people.

Tom Bivins no longer teaches at Yavapai College, Verde Valley Campus and lives on the West side of the Teton Mountain Range near Jackson Hole, in Teton Valley, Idaho.