Stepping on to the property of The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is like stepping on hallowed ground for a ceramic artist. The sprawling compound is a former brick factory and the dream of Archie Bray to “make available for all who are seriously interested in the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.” Located just three miles outside Helena, Archie inherited the brick factory from his father, Charles, when he passed away and in 1951 he joined together with Peter Meloy and Branson Stevenson to build the Pottery. Rudy Autio and Peter Voulkos both talented ceramicists in their own right were brought in to manage the pottery and quickly established the foundation as a significant center for the creation and study of ceramics.
Since its humble beginnings 65 years ago, The Bray has hosted over 675 resident artists from all over the world from as far as Taiwan, China, Serbia, and Israel to name a few. Ceramic masters like Akio Takamori, Sarah Jaeger and Steven Young Lee (The Bray’s current director) have all attended The Archie Bray making it a world class facility.
True to Archie’s vision, the Bray encourages and celebrates the work of the artists by hosting gallery space and providing studio space to the resident artists as well as a shop for the makers to sell their pieces. The result is that the artists are given the freedom to study, test, and create work at their own pace as well as learn from each other.
Architect’s Wife had the opportunity to visit the Archie Bray Foundation last Spring and wander its grounds. One of the things that stood out for AW during her visit is the accessibility the public has to this space. Everyone is free to experience the facility by visiting the gallery and touring the studio space to see the artists in action. There is even an artist’s shrine which ceramicists have been contributing to over the years. This place is special and well worth the drive to soak in the wonder of watching people study their craft and view their original works in clay.
AW couldn’t let a trip to the gallery pass without making a few acquisitions for the shop, so if you don’t have time to visit Helena (although we HIGHLY recommend the trip), stop by our furniture shop to gaze at the works of some of the current resident artists.
Thanksgiving is just a week away (The Architect’s Wife may or may not be in denial about this) which has The AW thinking about setting a beautiful table for her guests. When I was a kid it meant my mom pulled out our best china and the silver she and my dad were gifted on their wedding day. I would help her set the table, unfurling the linens that only made their appearance on holidays, placing my homemade place cards by each plate, and busting with excitement at the prospect of drinking juice from crystal glasses.
With that in mind, we partnered up with Kait Constanti of Bash, one half of a local wedding and event coordinating duo, to help us create a swoon-worthy Thanksgiving table for your holiday guests using our line of plates and glasses. Read on to check out her gorgeous take on a modern table and get her tips for creating an inviting place for your guests to enjoy their turkey dinner.
Fall’s bounty is so plentiful and colorful. Use those natural elements to add depth to your table. Here Kait placed pomegranates along side our spotted plate collection to add a pop of color to the tablescape.
What are your top 3 tips for hosting Thanksgiving at your home? 1. Don’t try to be MARTHA STEWART at the 11th hour. I hosted Thanksgiving a couple years back and decided I was going to cook EVERYTHING from scratch and, while it was a super good meal, I didn’t enjoy the process as much. I love to design and decorate but cooking for 12+ hours, not so much.
2. PLAN AHEAD [especially when it comes to] shopping. Don’t go to the store on the day of thinking you’ll get those last minute herbs. They’ll be out and you’ll be bummed. Make a list and get er’ done way ahead of time and beat the last minute shopping anxieties surrounding the day.
3. Have FUN with it! Try to come up with a unique table scape and interesting cocktails or mocktails for the night to create some fun talking points for guests. Make it an experience that is remembered versus the same old Thanksgiving dinner that we’ve all seen/been a part of.
What are you top 3 tips for setting a gorgeous table? 1. Start with your color story and make sure to create depth and dimension by choosing a palate that is unique. Find images that inspire you and use that as a jumping off point. 2. Color outside the lines. Just because thanksgiving traditionally incorporates pumpkins on the table doesn’t mean you have to. Create a look that is interesting and artful that feels unique to you and your family. 3. Always use fabric napkins. End of story.
Left: Kait reached out to Remy Greco-Brault of Labellum to create a beautiful centerpiece for her Thanksgiving tablescape. Right: One of Kait’s top tips for completing you Thanksgiving look — cloth napkins.
What are your tips on being a gracious host? I love hosting and I ask our guests to do nothing but eat, drink and enjoy themselves while at our house. They aren’t allowed to do dishes/clean up as I think of it as a gift to our guests. We all have to do dishes/clean on the daily for ourselves so why not treat others while at your house to relax and have the night off? That’s my personal opinion.
What’s your favorite host/hostess gift? LOVE giving anything from Remy at Labellum— she always puts together a unique last minute gift such as an air plant in a concrete vessel, fun vases with blooms, etc! Easy, quick, go to.
What is your top tip for a guest? Relax! Enjoy! Drink! Eat!
Who is your hostess icon? This won’t mean much to any of you but my Grandma Barbara was the consummate host. She loved herself some dinner parties and was constantly hosting people at she and my Grandpa’s house in Southern California. She was organized, poised, gracious, all about the details and always with such style. She was never frantic even while hosting a 50 person Christmas dinner at her house. She is #goals for sure and I learned a ton from her entertaining style. Our family joke is ‘She’s going full Grandma Barbara mode’ when my mom and I host dinner parties.
Best Thanksgiving ever? Hard question! They’re all special and unique in their own ways. My husband and I ditched out on Thanksgiving a couple years ago with his brother, sister in law and new baby to Sayulita, Mexico, and did it well down there. However, I do love myself a traditional Thanksgiving with all family and friends around.
What are you thankful for? Another tough question– SO much! My husband and I are fortunate to travel quite a bit and generally choose to go to developing countries. Travel offers a ton of perspective; we’re all so lucky. Health, family, friends, shelter, jobs, safety, our dog, Hillshire! [There is ] so much to be thankful for year round. Favorite Thanksgiving dish? I’m boring. Probably brussels sprouts or pumpkin pie.
No cheating. What are the last 3 things you Googled? Answers are so random but true! 1. What is traditional Kazakstan food? 2. How far is Albuquerque to Santa Fe? 3. Any rescue dachshunds available in Montana?
To get this look stop by The Architect’s Wife’s downtown furniture store and shop our collection of spotted tableware and recycled glassware.