My Origin Story!

I received a bulky package in the mail today from my one and only Uncle Mike! He was going through papers from his father, my grandfather, John Jerome Murray. The package contained dozens of letters that I wrote to him and my grandmother in the mid-1970’s…when I left home at 18 I didn’t really ever go back, but I wrote a lot in those days. I could never have told you that I wrote this much, but I was far away and my life was somewhere between the one I was born to and the life that I made. Writing kept me connected to Buffalo, from Arizona, New England and the old England,  Virginia and points in between. And I loved my grandparents! I suppose that I wanted them to know that I was doing well and was looking for their approval as I took a different path from the one expected of me. I’m proud of that me for being so diligent!

It’s a bit emotional to read the words I wrote in those days…missing family and girlfriends, struggling financially, expressing great hope as each new chapter unfolded, describing the life in an English country pottery that might have appeared exotic to the folks back home. But the coolest thing so far is this: an excerpt from a letter I wrote on Oct. 14 1973. It was my first semester of college (the first of three institutions of higher learning I attended)…I’m sure every potter has answered the question…”how did you become a potter?”. Well I have been telling the same story for a very long time and right there in my youthful and awkward writing on a yellowed piece of ruled paper is that very story in my 18 year old words.

Tom (Dowd) showed me how to make a pot out of clay in the ceramics studio. I made one small little one. He takes ceramics for one of his courses. I might next semester”  And I did!!! Standing in drop/ad lines to force my way in. Why I was so motivated by that one small pot I have no recollection… for several years I just figured that it would be a nice hobby. It really wasn’t until I walked in the door of the Winchcombe Pottery in the winter of 1978 that I knew I could be a potter. God knows what would have become of me if I hadn’t found that place?

One day I’ll write the story of getting to England and all the almost unbelievable connections that led me there. And then there is the 5 years between this letter and that. Those years have their own particular charm! But in the meantime, I’m completely pumped up with this discovery! It moves to the front of the archives.

I am fascinated to to know that my grandfather kept everything I sent him…show notices, business cards, articles, letters, postcards etc. I inherited that gene…I have kept almost every piece of personal correspondence I’ve ever received. Drop me a line!

6 Responses to “My Origin Story!”

  1. Pennie Soares

    I am so delighted to read this!Thank you for sharing , Dan!Kindest and best , as always. Pennie Soares.

  2. Janet Butler

    Lovely to read this note Dan. Look firward to hearing about your time at Winchcombe pottery. I am very interested in learning more. I recently visited the pottery, had a lovely day learning about the differences between pots depending on who potted them. Did you use a personal mark as well as WP? Hopefully one day I will find a Dan Finnegan pot for my collection. Best wishes for 2018, Janet

    • Dan Finnegan

      Hi, I just got home from a long residency in NC. Thanks for your note. I made very few pots at WP, I was there to assist the master potters, When I did make pots I just carved my initials.

  3. David Cole

    Now I’m engrossed in your story, your life. All the personal questions I’m reluctant to ask as I may be too forward/nosey into your personal space. What made you strike out at age eighteen? What was the role in life you were “expected” to follow, and who had this expectation of you? My parents always supported me in my artistic journey, but I always sensed (especially my dad’s”) confusion as to why I did’nt pursue a “real” job, like a machinist/tool and die maker, etc. My grandfather was a share cropper, my dad a business man. I fall somewhere in between. I look forward to your workshop with Tony Clenell this weekend, where I hope to know you and your work better.

  4. Bill Hauser

    Hi Dan: Sorry not to see you at the Pottery Tour this year as we have enjoyed some interesting conversations. It turns out the on-line tour works far better than I expected and I have traveled the site every day of the “tour,” and found it very satisfying and rather expensive. I hope the in-person tour happens again in the future, but given how simple this was, I wonder if that will ever recur. Cheers, Bill

    • Dan Finnegan

      Hi Bill, I appreciate your note. Sales were spectacular this year, but I really miss the opportunity to speak with the visitors and to hang with some potters who I really love and admire.I would drive the 1,000 next year in a heartbeat if we are able. Take care and thanks for your support! Dan


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)