Rainy Day Hole up at the Monk King Bird Pottery

The Wyoming wind blew the snot from my nose in to my eye and I steered the mules for the sign that looked mis-spelled: “Monk King Bird Pottery”. I blamed the snot but sure enough, there was an “N” in the name where I would have expected a “C”.

The Monk King Bird Pottery. Owner Byron is on the left. (Jeffry City, Wyoming)

Pulled the mules to a halt in front of the storefront. Out of the wind I wiped the snotty tear from my eye and stared. No motion. Then, from a recliner, a body rising. That’s how I met Byron Seeley, owner of the Monk King Bird.

Byron Seeley: owner of the Monk King Bird Pottery

Hanging out at the Monk King Bird

Byron owns the Monk King Bird Pottery. The first thing he said after introducing himself was, “I’m kinda sore right now because my dog ran away today. They found him over at the school and brought him back. First time he’s run away in months. That’s why he’s on the zip line. I hate to tie him but he can’t run away like that. He’ll get hit on the highway.

Byron as I met him. Hanging with him is Floyd

I asked him what the dog’s name was. He said, “Right now it’s Mud. His real name is Floyd but I’m pissed off at him right now for running off.”

Byron said it was okay if I tied the mules out behind the pottery for the night.

Introductions over, Byron gave me a tour of his studio.

In to the Monk King Bird

Byron grew up west of here in Big Piney. He worked cattle with his family before heading out to Taos, New Mexico then swinging back to Caper, Wyoming. Over a decade ago, he bought a gas station in Jeffry City and converted it in to the pottery.

Here’s a look inside.

How to get up with Byron if he’s not around.
The sign reads:” MaKE SOme NOISE if I’m not Here i’m CLose By Please USE CB Raido Push to talk Let go to Listen Don’t waste my noise one BLAST is PLenty”
Hanging above the sign: an air horn labeled “NOISE”

“This is what got me going,” Byron said of these layered pots. “After I turn the pots, I sand off the outside layer to show the different colors in the layers of clay.” Byron’s next idea came was…
…the shot shotglass. “I make these shot glasses. Then I take them out back and shoot them with a .22. Then I patch them back up and fire them.” Byron says the shot shotglasse are now among his biggest sellers.
Where the pottery gets made.
Work in progress: Byron repairs the front doors while Mud, aka The Dog Formerly Known as Floyd, supervises.

A Place to Weather the Rain

Last night the rains washed the stars from the sky. I took shelter in a cabin surrounded by Byron’s collection of vintage campers. I woke to a soggy scene of dripping sage brush and muck. My boots are leaking. My bedding is damp. Some days the best thing to do is nothing.

The gathering storm: Brick tethered to one of Byron’s campers.
The cabin where we spent the night
A look inside. Those saddle pads became my mattress.
A soggy scene in Jeffrey City

So the mules are getting a day off. Tomorrow morning, under hopefully dryer skies, the mules and I head toward Sweetwater Junction.

What’s up With the Monk King Bird Name?

Yeah, I was wondering about that spelling, too. But I’m feeling typed out so that’s a story for later this week.

Jeffrey City Thanks

Deep in dust and sage of eastern Wyoming, the mules and I are more dependent then ever before for folks we meet along the way. Thanks to:

  • Byron of the Monking Bird Pottery: for putting the mules and me up through this patch of wet weather
  • Isabel, Lisa and Bill at the Split Rock Cafe and Bar: for the beer, eggs and wi-fi
  • Eddie at the Split Rock Cafe and Bar: for telling me so it was going to rain in time for me to crawl in to one of Byron’s cabins
  • Lynn and NaNa: for the roadside cherry and nut chocolate bar
  • LeRoy: for teaching my how to say “see you later” in Navajo – “a-con-a”

11 Responses to Rainy Day Hole up at the Monk King Bird Pottery

  • Great tale! What a face he has, Byron…

    I always thought “Your name is mud” was a quaint figure of speech encountered mainly in Johnny Cash songs and films with Clint Eastwood in a stetson. So I learned something!


    • Funny you mention Clint Eastwood. He figures in the follow up story about the Monk King Bird pottery. As to Mud, he’s back to Floyd. Hey, that’s gotta a country ring to it. About a dog that cleans up his act to get in to a Johnny Cash song…

  • I’m so glad you made it to Byron’s studio, Bernie!! Isn’t he cool? He lived in Casper for a while and his pottery is famous. I have a couple of awesome pots by him that I treasure. After we left you, I was kicking myself for not suggesting you stop by Monk King Bird Pottery. I’m so glad you found the coolest dude on that lonely road. It was so great to meet you, Brick, and Cracker. Lynn and I talked about you all day. We saw about 60 or 70 wild horses in the Red Desert south of Jeffrey City and had a fantastic day. Thanks for being a part of it! We wish you the best of luck on your travels & hope to meet again someday.

    • Hi NaNa. Great hearing from you. Yeah, I really enjoyed my visit with Byron. I’m now the proud owner of one of his shot shotglasses. Tucked away in my saddle bag in case of emergency.
      What a wonderful road side visit we had. The bar of chocolate disappeared, as predicted, before the top of the hill where we met. I may have seen sugar buzz induced stars but none looked like wild horses, despite my best visualization attempts. Oh well…
      Give Lynn a big howdy from me!

  • Interesting pottery interesting man

  • I live in Riverton, I must have drove past this 100 times on my rock trips, but never stopped, then my boss mentioned it on our office call this morning, so I thought I would google it. That is when I came upon your story. I am going to have to stop in the next time I go through Jeffrey City.

    • Hi Nancy,
      Great hearing from you!
      By all means drop by the Monk King Bird pottery. Very groovy place.
      When you stop by, make sure you tell Byron I made it to Idaho and back to North Carolina before the snow got too deep!
      Happy adventuring,

  • Hi Byron! In 2015, my husband and I were on a road trip in the area and came by youre Monk King Bird stop. we had a great time chatting with you and seeing your facility. We left with an awesome pitcher, and it’s always a conversation starter when we serve drinks in it!

    I’m curious… do you make “butter bells”? I am in the market for one, but want to support independent artists before going to a big box store. Also, do you offer shipping? I’d love to know more! Thanks!!

  • I wish I had bought more of his mugs, I can’t find them on internet. Looks like i need to return to Wy. His ceramics are unique and beautiful.

    • Hi Nicole. Yeah, looks like you have a trip to Monk King Bird Pottery (I love the “Monk” spelling) in your future! I remember Byron saying he headed out some winters to warmer climes like Arizona. His pottery was really cool and I enjoyed him showing me how he made it (though, alas, we didn’t fire a rifle at any of his “shot” shot glasses). All the best tracking down one of his mugs. That’s one of the magical things that makes his work so special – and frustrating. You just can’t get it anywhere, any time. Happy Mug Hunting! Bernie

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