Chris Hosbach’s journey to Breckenridge is similar to that of many locals. Hailing from suburban Detroit, he initially came to visit his brother in 2006. But as with so many newcomers, it was love at first sight. He relocated immediately.
“I was never a big outdoors person. I was more concentrated on my ceramics. I moved out and learned to snowboard out here. In the last two years I’ve gotten into mountain biking and that whole scene,” he says.
Now the Michigan native works for the Town of Breck’s building maintenance department by day and is an instructor at Breck Create, spending evenings making pottery in his private studio.
Playing with Clay. Breaking the Rules
Although his love for the outdoors has blossomed during his nine years in town, Hosbach’s artistic side emerged at an early age. His love of drawing, painting and sculpting goes back as far as he can recall, but when he began “playing with clay” in first and second grade art class, it became obvious that he had an affinity for ceramics. By the time he reached high school, the pottery professor accommodated his uncanny talent by allowing him to bypass other required electives.
“He allowed me to break the rules and take eight or nine semesters of ceramics. I exhausted the curriculum,” Hosbach says. “He gave me more advanced assignments – developing glazes, working in glaze chemistry and more elaborate designs. Towards the end it was about finding your voice and expressing it through ceramics.”
Upon graduating, Hosbach enrolled at a technical college specializing in chemistry, but dropped out when he discovered that there were no outlets for creativity.
“There were no art classes available at all. I was craving that. I needed the art,” he recalls.
He thus enrolled in a two-year community college ceramics program under the guidance of nationally renowned artist and author Robert Piepenburg, who he names as “a big influence.”
A Multi-Step Experiment
Since then, Hosbach has ventured down many avenues of ceramic expression. He has dabbled in abstract forms and life-sized sculptures. He is astute in many types of glazes, wood and gas-firing techniques. The most enticing allure of the art form, however, is its multi-faceted nature. Unlike the instant gratification of producing a painting, a graphic design, photography or many other types of art, producing a ceramics piece involves many layers and elements of mystery. They each allow for either a pleasant surprise or heartbreaking disappointment, depending on how it all comes together.
“It’s a really involved process. You have to make the piece, wait, have it dry, fire it, glaze it. You could make one thing and have it not be finished for a month or two,” Hosbach points out. “There’s a lot of patience and frustration involved. What really draws me to it is when you do get that finished result you’re looking for. There are so many moments where you could ruin it. You have to know you can always make another one. It’s one big experiment.”
Functional & Inspirational
These days, Hosbach’s focus area is on functional pieces – mugs, dishes and plates. He relishes the idea of people actually using his art and enjoying it every day more than just admiring it on a shelf. Still, he prefers to maintain his art as a hobby rather than pursue it as a full-time career. That way he can keep it fun and make time for other hobbies, which just happen to fuel his creative fire.
“There ‘s a lot of inspiration here, the scenery is so beautiful. If you get hung up in your artwork it’s so easy to step back from it and go outside,” he says. “It recharges me. I go for a hike or bike ride and it gives me a chance to work through those thoughts and move forward. Since the Arts District opened, it keeps me coming back and keeps me excited and grateful about what I’m doing. The encouragement and support for the arts is growing more and more.”