The potter's hands: Utah artist finds creative success after 'stepping away from fear'

Published: Monday, April 7 2014 8:50 p.m. MDT

The "bits of wisdom" he had experienced came out in the story of Isaac, the wise potter at Niederbipp.

"I would often write myself into a corner where I had no idea where the story was supposed to go," he said. "I would go downstairs and work on my pottery, and all the people of Niederbipp would come have tea parties in my head as I worked, and all the answers would come."

After multiple edited manuscripts "dripping with red ink," "Remembering Isaac" was published in 2009, with Costco and Deseret Book emerging as willing sellers.

Other silver linings unfolded. While writing his book, he and his wife made the final payment on their home. In 2010, Behunin found a treatment that eliminated the pain in his hands.

Despite how much had gone wrong, Lynnette Behunin was never surprised by all that went right.

"With Ben, he makes things happen. There's a magic about him," she said. "We took steps in the dark, and ways opened up."

'Stepping away from fear'

By 2011, the Behunins had saved enough money to make some improvements to their home. They and their two children moved into Lynnette's parents' basement while the house underwent a six-month transformation.

"I wanted it to be a place where people could come and feel something different, to be inspired by, if nothing else, the color and creation," Ben Behunin said.

And color and creation is what prevails at the Behunin house, the culmination of a 26-year pottery career. Five hundred square feet of hand-made tiles adorn the floors and walls, inside and out.

"More than anything, I just love the feel of the house," Lynnette Behunin said. "It's just a peaceful, cozy feeling, a place that welcomes you."

After three years of no arthritis, the pain returned in one of Behunin's thumbs in January. It's a scary prospect, one he may have to live with for the rest of his life.

"It's something I have to go to battle with every day," he said. "You can either buy into fear and let it paralyze you, or you can buck against it and make the best with what you have."

As for the voices in his head, Behunin says "they're louder than they ever have been," having published five more books after his first.

It's all part of an impetus to spread creativity, to be molded by love and not fear, to "make the world a happier, crazier, kinder, more colorful place."

And creativity, he says, doesn't cost much.

"It just requires stepping away from fear."

Ben Behunin will be signing his books at Eborn Books, 254 S. Main, on April 10 from 11 a.m. to noon. The Behunin home, 1150 E. 800 South, will be open to visitors Mother's Day weekend, May 8, 9 and 10.

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

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