Daniel Johnston had his first kiln opening in December of 2003. It was much anticipated and well attended and substantially supported by many other potters in the Seagrove pottery community. All in attendance at that first kiln opening agreed that it was long overdue and very much worth the wait.
Daniel was born to a family of farmers and raised in the community of potters known as Seagrove in central North Carolina. He always knew that like his farming family, he would work with the earth, but he had a hunch it would not be in the usual manner of tilling the soil and planting crops. Rather, what Daniel longed to do was dig his own clay, rendering it “throwable” and turning it into functional and beautiful vessels.
He spent four years as an apprentice with Mark Hewitt, the much esteemed potter from Pittsboro, NC. He spent another year in Thailand, where he studied with masters of Asian pottery. Then Daniel returned to his home in Seagrove and commenced to setting up his pottery. He took trees from his land to build his studio, erected a wood-burning kiln brick by brick and stuccoed the outside with locally-dug clay. He even built a water tower of Thai design to catch rainwater and eliminated the need to dig a well. Of his work, Daniel says: “I do not try to control my materials, rather I try to understand them. From digging the clay to firing the kiln I put all my effort into creating pots that have a powerful presence. It is important to me to create pots that are timeless but reflect the culture and times in which I live.”
In the ten years since Daniel opened up his pottery, Daniel has enjoyed accolades that include addressing the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery Collectors Circle, twice, and inclusion in collections around the world.