My love of working with clay started as a small child when I found some clay on a riverbank and realized what wondrous things could be sculpted with it. Unlike sand castles at the seashore, clay sculptures and pots hold their shape.
At Garden City High School, in Garden City, New York, I had an inspirational art teacher, with an interest in sculpture, who encouraged me and gave me the freedom to explore the nature of clay.
At Wilson College, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, I was a liberal arts major with a focus in art history. I took a few studio art classes there, but it wasn’t until graduate school at Wesleyan University, in Middletown Connecticut, that I took my first ceramics course. My instructor, Mary K. Risley, taught me to throw and trim pots on the potter’s wheel; how to operate a kiln; and how to make glazes.
I enjoyed my career as an art teacher and I found the students fun to teach. One story I like to tell people is when a little 4th grade student, asked me " Mrs. Johnston, do you get paid to be my art teacher?" Obviously, I seemed to be having too much fun to be working.
After graduating with a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree, I taught art for over 30 years. During the last 14 years, I was the half-time art teacher in the same school attended by my two children. I always insisted that the art room have facilities for clay work—a potter’s wheel, wedging table, glazes and a kiln, so that ceramics could join drawing and sketching as a part of the curriculum.