Like most adult siblings, the members of the Bujold family—Dan, 62, Dave, 57, Barbara Martinez, 63, Janet Lofstuen, 59, and Doug, 55—lived separate lives. Though they all made their homes in the metro area, they only saw each other during holiday get-togethers. But, in 2010, a shared passion for art changed all that.
The discovery began when Dan’s stepdaughter, Emily Thayer, asked him to take a class with her at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. Glancing through the class listings, Dan stopped at pottery. He recalled that his brother Dave had taken pottery in high school and for years talked about taking up the pursuit again. So Dan surprised his brother by giving him a ceramics class at the center. “I didn’t ask for it,” Dave says, “but I was thrilled.”
So Dan, Dave and Emily took the class together, and after the first session, the two brothers continued to register for the same beginning-to-intermediate ceramics class with instructor Lee Pursell. Eventually, their other siblings began to take notice. “We’d go to [Dan and Dave’s] houses and see things they’d made,” Barbara says, “and it sounded like fun.”
One by one, the remaining Bujold siblings enrolled in the ceramics class until all five were together at the same time. “We sort of took over that classroom,” Dave says, laughing. “It was like a family get-together there every week.”
The class takes place every Tuesday evening, but students are encouraged to take advantage of open studio during the rest of the week to practice and work on projects, which range from coffee cups to birdbaths. The Bujold siblings can often be found at MCFTA during open studio, throwing pots on the pottery wheel or working on a larger piece.
“If I do stop in at open studio and work for a couple of hours,” says Barbara, “it’s very possible that one or two of my brothers will show up, or my sister might be there. We don’t plan it; we just run into each other.”
By creating and learning about pottery in class, the siblings developed an appreciation for how difficult the process is. “You start realizing this isn’t a third-grade art project… [pottery] is really something that you need to get into,” Dan says. “And there are many levels of understanding with it.”
The siblings have developed a mutual passion for the art form. “[Ceramics has] given us a whole new topic to talk about,” Barbara says. “We get to know each other in a different light.” Outside of the studio, they study the work of other potters and incorporate aspects of those works in their own pieces. For the past two years, the siblings have attended the St. Croix pottery tour, an event in May where several local potters open up their studios to the public and invite four or five potters from around the country to display their works. The siblings have made the pottery tour a weekend event, staying at Janet’s cabin nearby.
Now that Dan, Dave, Janet, Barbara and Doug have all gotten a taste of the potter’s wheel, none seem prepared to stop learning and creating. Most of the siblings are determined to continue their Tuesday night class at MCFTA.
Whether or not they all continue attending the classes together, the Bujold siblings have all come away with an enthusiasm for working with clay. “It’s kind of habit-forming,” Dave says. “I always have new ideas that I want to try out.”
Check out the center’s full class listings at minnetonkaarts.org.