Maker Stories

Tony Holman’s Problem-Solving Pottery

June 9, 2016
Tony Holman | UncommonGoods

Tony Holman working in his Plano, TX studio, photos by NéQuana Rollings

 

“Being a full time artist is never easy, but it’s certainly worth the hard work (and gray hairs),” says Tony Holman, a potter who makes practicality and purpose look good.

Tony began honing his pottery skills almost 40 years ago at Indiana University, fine tuned them soon after at Bloomington Pottery, and now runs his own studio in Plano, Texas. It’s here where he creates his line of handcrafted helpers that play a vital part in the well-appointed kitchen.

Statues in the Holman's yard

Tony created these statues in grad school. They now stand in the Holmans’ garden

His kitchen creations—an all-in-one fondue warmer and platter setself-draining utensil caddy, and omelet maker that turns out fluffy eggs in 45 seconds flat, to name a few—are an irresistible blend of form and function.

Utensil Draining Caddy | UncommonGoods

Utensil Draining Caddy | UncommonGoods

 

 

Tony and Debbie Holman

Tony and Debbie Holman in front of their Plano, TX home, which is also their studio and storefront

Can you describe your creative process?
It starts with my family. They’re always snapping photos of inspiring ideas and bringing potential products to my attention. From there I attempt to bring an idea to life through experiment after experiment. Depending on the design I have in mind, this process can take weeks or months. My family then tests recipes to find the perfect use for each piece. I strive to make objects that are both creative and beautiful, yet still extremely functional.

How do you set goals for yourself?
I like to challenge myself. I push myself to create more, differently, better. I never like things to be the same, and I always strive to make improvements.

Tony's Tools

Tony's Scale
What are your essential tools?
My kiln and pottery wheel.

Pottery Wheel
From start to finish, what does your process look like?
Each design takes shape on my wheel. I use a mixture of stoneware and porcelain clay, and then I add special touches with small details that make my pieces useful and unique. For instance, I take a small wooden tool to make the rough design in the center of the Garlic Grating Bread & Oil Dipping Plate so you can grate your garlic. To finish, I fire my pieces in a gas kiln and make sure they’re sturdy enough to last through the wear and tear of entertaining.

Fossil Garlic Grater by Tony Holman

Fossil Garlic Grater | UncommonGoods

What inspired you to create that particular piece?
The hardest part about entertaining guests is never having enough hands or time. This piece not only holds the bread and oil all in one, but saves time and dishes!

How do you hope people react when they receive your creations?
I want people to feel excited to use them. I love to hear stories from customers about how they’ve made my designs their own and how they use them every day. The best part is learning about the creative uses customers come up with for each piece, which sometimes end up as additions to our own family recipes.

Patterns and shapes for pottery

Pottery patterns and shapes

What quote keeps you motivated?
“Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” What this quote means to me is to never finish a day without doing as much as you can and leave nothing behind.

Tony as drawn by his daughter

Tony keeps this drawing that his (now adult) daughter drew as a child in his studio for inspiration

Vintage Tony Holman Pottery

Vintage Tony Holman pottery

Where do you find inspiration within your workspace?
In my studio and local galleries. By looking at my work and others, I can envision how pieces can be used and begin to envision new creations.

Garden

Tony’s pottery in his garden

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I’m part of a great community of potters. Whenever one of us is having trouble with clay or glazing, I always try and fix it for each other. That collaboration has solved many headaches for me and made my art better.

The Holmans open their home to Girl Scouts looking to earn the Potter Badge

The Holmans open their studio to Girl Scouts working to earn the Potter Badge


What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
A potter has to have more than just the ability to make pots. Right now, I’m trying to learn how to build and repair my kiln.

Tony Holman's Signature

 

Heart Snack Bowl | UncommonGoods

Heart Snack Bowl | UncommonGoods

See Tony Holman's Collection | UncommonGoods

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