Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Benjamin Maier Ceramics
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Benjamin Maier Ceramics

Robert Downes - July 5th, 2007
Peer beyond the elegant storefront windows of Benjamin Maier’s gallery in downtown Leland and you’ll find a contemporary landscape of swirling colors, captured in clay.
The gallery walls are filled with Maier’s creations, ranging from Oriental teapots to vases, cups, dishware and stoneware pots, all imbued with a dreamy sense of style and color. It’s clear at a glance that Maier, 29, has a singular vision that brings out the best of what clay has to offer, draped in a sublime range of glazes and colors.
Maier’s celebration of the earth happened by chance. After graduating from Traverse City Central High School in 1996, he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, completing a degree in political science with a minor in economics.
But after graduation, a sense that something was missing in his life led him to take a class in ceramics with instructor Carl Spork at Northwestern Michigan College.
“I was at a different point in my life and ceramics was an outlet that helped me emerge from a difficult space,” he recalls. “It was very therapeutic working with clay, and after the therapy, it turned into a career.”
He attended another ceramics course at Michigan State University, and then spent three seasons at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. “I was there three years in a row, going back and forth, creating work there and selling it back home,” he says.
Five years ago, Maier launched his first gallery, also in Leland’s. He opened his current gallery in the summer of 2004. The gallery features a handsome facade in dark tones that reflect the contemporary style of his ceramics.
As for his studio, that’s located at the top of Crain Hill in Leelanau County. Here, Maier creates soda-fired stoneware, using a technique called vapor firing.
Vapor firing involves spraying ceramics with a solution of soda ash and water while the work is being fired in a gas kiln. “Basically, you’re spraying salt water on the ceramics, which washes out the glazes,” Maier says. The result is a unique pattern on every piece of stoneware.
Maier also works with the Japanese woodfire method, which involves firing raw clay to give it a crusty, antique look that’s aesthetically pleasing. The method was developed 300-500 years ago, but produces a timeless quality that resonates from medieval Japan to the art lovers of today. “You’re not trying to be so tight and perfect with this method,” Maier says. “You’re telling the clay to breathe a little more.”
So, how’s business in Leland’s art-friendly community?
“Each summer it gets a little bit better,” Maier says. “I’m doing wedding and shower gifts along with commission work on things like dinner sets. People come in with ideas and we work on creating what they want.”
Maier also keeps prices down so that there’s something for every budget. A teacup, for instance, might run $10, with prices rising to a stoneware centerpiece going for $500. “I want someone to be able to walk in and find something they like for $9 or $12. I try to keep prices reasonable.”

Benjamin Maier Ceramics is located at 102 North Main, Leland, with hours from 11-5 Monday through Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. Ph: 231-590-1084.

 
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