The Gladding McBean Factory
|The historic Gladding, McBean pottery is located in the Placer County town of Lincoln, nestled against the Sierra foothills northeast of Sacramento. In continuous operation since 1875, the Gladding, McBean factory is the largest clay-pipe manufacturing facility in the United States. It is also one of the only three companies in the country making high-quality architectural terra cotta, and the only current producer of architectural terra cotta to have existed before the Great Depression.
Inside the walls of Gladding, McBean is a living museum of architectural ornamentation from the last century-and-a-quarter, sitting as silent witness while the factory continues to produce exterior cladding and decoration for new and old buildings, using the same technique employed here more than 100 years ago. A walk through the pottery is truly a journey into the past, an amazing place where time appears to have stood still.
Since 1996, Gladding, McBean has played host to one of the country's most popular photographic workshops. Designed for the intermediate or advanced photographer, the Gladding, McBean Photography Workshop provides, more than anything else, access to one of the most visually interesting and historically rich buildings in the entire West. From its massive beehive kilns, in which huge sewer pipes are fired, to the small clay figures in the old modeling studio, the pottery provides a never-ending supply of compelling subjects and extraordinary light. Since before the turn of the 20th century, when photography was used as an integral partner in the process of manufacturing architectural terra cotta, informative and magical images have flowed from these buildings.
Proceeds from the Gladding, McBean Photography Workshops help to support the programs of the Lincoln Arts & Culture Foundation, which hosts the annual Feats of Clay ceramics exhibition in the pottery.
- Written by Gene Kennedy
Gene Kennedy hosts the Gladding, McBean photography workshop twice a year. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding the workshop.
I participated in Gladding, McBean workshop last September of 2001. It was a challenging space to photograph not only because of the interesting light inside the factory but because the workshop took place the weekend after September 11th. I needed to photograph life... Gladding, McBean had its own life which you will see in my photographs.
The following photographs are taken in 35mm format with my Canon A-1 - traditional style... The first series are b/w prints, the second are b/w slides.