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The art of the guitar

Carina Hume - August 9th, 2007
Clay piggy bank artist Tyler Bier and girlfriend Anna Farrell have collaborated to offer a line of colorful, handmade, clay guitars at the Bier Art Gallery and Pottery Studio. A variety of mini guitar replicas are available for purchase, and a demonstration of the artists’ creative process will take place on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the gallery, located six miles south of Charlevoix.

FAMILY TIES
The son of Ray and Tami Bier, owners of the Bier Art Gallery, Tyler has been working with clay for the last seven years.
“I started making piggy banks after my grandpa passed away, when I was about 13,” says the 20-year-old. Tyler Bier spent many years watching his grandpa on the potter’s wheel, but credits his parents for his clay skills. Ray is known for his functional stoneware pottery, while Tami creates whimsical and detailed clay sculpture as well as stoneware.
The gallery is housed in a converted red and white schoolhouse on US-31 that showcases a mixture of regional and national artists’ work in pottery, glass, wood, photography and more.

A COLLABORATION
Dating since high school, Tyler and Anna decided to combine their artistic skills to create something new. “My parents were encouraging us to do something for the gallery because Anna’s good at art,” says Tyler.
The result is an impressive display of one-of-a-kind clay guitars, over a foot high and more than four inches wide. The couple sold three in their first month, with prices ranging from $165 to $195.
A guitarist in the Charlevoix-based band Painting Tradition since he was a freshman in high school, Bier admits the clay pieces are modeled after some of his own guitars.
“I own probably six guitars,” says Tyler, “so we looked at those and made our guitars after them.”

ARTISTRY TAKES TIME
Creating a clay guitar piece takes eight hours, but combined with glaze and two firings, the finished project takes two weeks.
“They’re all slab built,” explains Tyler. “It’s really time consuming. We roll out slabs of clay, then cut out shapes of guitars, put them together, fire them, glaze them, fire them once more, then string them.” Copper speaker wire is used for each guitar’s strings.
Special orders are always welcome for those wanting mini replicas of their own guitars. Just bring a picture for the artists to create from.

A FUTURE IN THE ARTS?
Bier Art Gallery will host a demonstration day on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. to coincide with Charlevoix’s Waterfront Art Fair. Tyler and Anna, as well as other artists represented by the gallery, will be on hand to explain their work. Tyler has been participating and demonstrating his clay work for demonstration days since his early teens.
Clearly, art is a part of Tyler’s and Anna’s lives, but they’re not sure how much of a role it will play in their futures. Tyler is a junior business major at Grand Valley State University and Farrell will be joining him there as a freshman this fall, but neither have decided on specific career paths.
“Art is fun,” Tyler says with a laugh. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Bier Art Gallery and Pottery Studio is located six miles south of Charlevoix on US-31 and is open daily from 10a.m.-6p.m. or by appointment.
Call 231-547-2288, 866-880-5624 or
visit www.biergallery.com for more information.



 
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