ceramic guitars produced by Charlevoix artisans Anna Farrell and Tyler
I made one that was about two-feet high, a Fender, for a class project
years ago, recalls the 24-year-old Bier, who has seven real guitars of
his own. After that I just started making them, though smaller.
For about two years, both Bier and Farrell constructed the guitars, but
now she specializes in the axes, while Bier has moved on to more
functional ceramics like dishes, mugs, piggy banks and serving bowls.
Annas guitars are a lot neater (than mine), says Bier with a smile.
Shes incredibly talented and precise. I stick to the wheel now.
Farrells 12-inch guitars have been well received by music fans and art
collectors across the country. In just the past year shes sold more than
60 of them. They range in price from $125 to $285.
I just sent an order to a guy in Chicago, says Farrell. He doesnt play
at all, but just really likes guitars. I do sell some to guitarists or
family members of musicians. I get a lot of repeat customers
Each guitar is crafted from clay slabs for the hollowed body and the
foundation for the guitars unique characteristics such as pick guards,
knobs and pickups. Then each instrument is fired for three hours in the
kiln at 1,900 degrees, custom glazed for two hours and fired again for up
to two hours at 2,250 degrees. The final stage includes stringing with
wires and applying tags.
STRATS & GIBSONS
About 20 different guitar body templates are used as guides, including
Stratocaster, Les Paul, Telecaster, Gibson SG and Hofner bass. Theyre a
lot of fun to make, says Farrell, who isnt a guitarist at all, but does
play the violin. I get a lot of custom orders.
She also gets asked to fashion other musical instruments, including pianos
and trumpets. I may try some of those over the winter. Im working on
designing a cello. And I do make some violins.
Bier and Farrell have had a busy summer with art shows almost every
weekend. On Aug. 6-7 theyll be at the Portside Arts Fair in East Jordan.
The Labor Day weekend will find them downstate at Franklins Art in the
Village on Sept. 6.
In addition to Farrells guitars, at shows the pair offers a variety of
Biers functional, yet beautiful, creations. Unlike some artists who use
commercial glazes, all of Biers items feature custom glazes created by
hand in his studio. I think making our glaze is part of the art, he
says. A lot of it is trial and error. Even when you have an idea of what
will happen, you might be completely wrong.
Farrell and Bier met at Charlevoix High School and have been together
for about six years. Biers parents Ray and Tami are talented
ceramic artists in their own rights and operate the Bier Gallery, about
six miles south of Charlevoix. I grew up around clay, Bier laughs. I
cant draw, cant paint.
After high school, Bier and Farrell went to Grand Valley State University
where he majored in finance and she in communications. Then they began
working as serious artists.
It was always a dream of mine to be involved with art, says 22-year-old
Farrell. Some day Id like to try painting landscapes. Ive tried oils
and acrylics, but never done water colors.
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