Monte started making pots when he was 13, and today, his stoneware pottery is all about creating pieces that people will use. “I’m trying to carry on a tradition, the tradition of functional pottery to be used in people’s daily lives,” he said. My work is stoneware pottery, wheel thrown with handmade additions then fired in our wood fired kiln over a 36- hour period. The intent of my work is to be used and enjoyed daily by bringing beautiful colors, strong form, and function to people’s lives.
While he can put as much artistic flair as he can into constructing his clay pieces, mixing the glazes, and feeding and stoking the wood-fired kiln, ultimately, the kiln decides each piece’s fate.
Monte had the kiln built in 2013, shortly after he and his wife, Julie, moved back to Dubois County. The couple lived in Jasper from 2000 to 2006 before moving for professional reasons. His 8-foot-tall, wood-fired kiln — a cross-draft kiln designed and built by a potter in Kentucky — sits under a shelter in the side yard of Monte’s Jasper home. It was constructed with nearly 3,000 bricks and the inside is 60 cubic feet.
Monte first took an interest in pottery when he was 13 and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in ceramics with a pottery emphasis from the University of Northern Iowa in 1984. He got his start as a production potter making about 200 wheel-thrown pots — pots created on a potter’s wheel — per week for a potter in Iowa.
Ever since, pottery’s been his hobby. He creates 600-700 pieces a year, and while he keeps one for himself every once in a while, he sells a majority of them by word of mouth, at fairs and businesses such as Traditional Arts Today. He describes his work as traditional. A lot of today’s younger potters go for “funky and weird,” he says. When his pieces start to stray that way, he takes a step back. “Those guys are trying to make a mark,” he says. “I’m trying to make pots.”
“In my mind, I think of art as being totally creative - I’m trying to carry on a tradition,” Monte says, “the tradition of functional pottery to be used in people’s daily lives.”
Recently, Monte Young was designated an Indiana Artisan. Indiana Artisan was established in 2008 to identify and support the business development of Hoosier entrepreneurs who create high-quality arts, crafts and value-added foods. The work of nearly 200 artisans in 54 counties has been designated Indiana Artisan. “An Indiana Artisan is a Hoosier recognized for careful attention to detail, knowledge of a craft and an entrepreneurial spirit. His or her talent contributes to Indiana’s reputation for quality work.