Dan Finnegan

CIMG6733My pottery career began more than 40 years ago when a college friend taking  a class invited me to throw a pot. I was hooked from the start, but I couldn’t imagine that I could make a life as a potter. After attending 3 universities I found my way to England where I eventually got a job at the Winchcombe Pottery.

Winchcombe’s tradition as a country pottery began in the early 1800’s and faded away in the early 1920’s before being revived by Michael Cardew, one of the true masters of 20th century pottery. Cardew assembled a team that included Ray Finch and several local men to produce useful handmade pottery.

By the time I landed there, Ray had been running the pottery for more than 40 years with a team of 6 producing a line of wood-fired domestic ware and my job was to support the team’s efforts, from glazing and loading and wood wrangling to, most importantly, tea making! My stay at Winchcombe had a great influence on my work. By the time I returned to the U.S. I had come to embrace the aesthetic ideas underpinning the work that the pottery produced as well as the work ethic required to survive.

I moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia in September of 1980, where I was hired to be the the manager of the Fredericksburg Pottery. I set out to make useful pots that honored the tradition of Winchcombe without being mere imitations. Using multiple layers of materials and techniques, I’ve tried to make pots that fit in with today’s world. Fredericksburg has been my adopted home ever since…for many years (20+) I ran a retail shop and gallery directly from my studio in the heart of downtown. Until recently I sold almost all my work in town, keeping regular shop hours and immersing myself in the community.

For the first 10 years or so I just kept my head down and made thousands and thousands of pots. In the early 1990’s I was invited to teach a regular course for the Art League at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. About this time I also began traveling to lead workshops at schools and craft centers along the East Coast. I also began hiring assistants to help me with the shop and learn to make a line of pots that I designed. For some reason that led to the start of a small school for pottery which led to the founding of the LibertyTown Arts Workshop which is another story for another time.

…..I closed the Hanover Street studio this spring (2005), dividing my time between LibertyTown and my workshop in the country. I completed construction of a two-chambered, wood-fired kiln there last fall and intend for it to be my primary means of firing in the future.