Since 1977, Mel Bolen has worked full-time as a ceramic artist from a home studio located in a converted church near Humboldt. Born in Regina, Bolen studied engineering at the University of Regina in1966-67, before switching to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Following graduation in 1971, he worked as a pottery instructor for the city of Regina for one year, before becoming head of the University of Regina's Extension Pottery Department from 1972 to 1976. After one year at the University of Saskatchewan, where he taught off-campus credit classes in ceramics, he established his current practice in Humboldt. A long-time member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, Bolen is best known for his functional ware - bowls, platters, planters - which he and his partner, Karen Holden, market through their company, North Star Pottery. Bolen has periodically obtained Saskatchewan Arts Board and Canada Council grants, which have permitted him to take sabbatical leaves from his commercial practice to produce more personal, non-functional items in the vein of ceramic sculpture. Freed from the dictates of the marketplace, Bolen then experiments with various clay mixtures, glazes and firing techniques. During Expo 86 in Vancouver, he served as a demonstrator and exhibitor at the Saskatchewan Pavilion.