JOHN DONOVAN

After a twenty-year career in art higher-education, Tenure Ceramics lead designer/potter John Donovan knows how to make clay work. John has long been recognized for his ceramic sculpture, and is represented by LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans and Zeitgeist Art Gallery in Nashville. His work has been exhibited at the Third World Ceramic Biennale in Icheon, South Korea; the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Wiregrass Museum of Art, and the Huntsville Museum of Art. In 2011 John received the Individual Artist Fellowship in Craft Media from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the organizations most prestigious and competitive award given to a single artist.

In 2007 he began working with Tandy Wilson of City House Restaurant to create a custom commercial-grade ceramic tableware. As word-of-mouth spread, he began accepting additional commercial and residential commissions, collaborating with clients to create one-of-a-kind signature pieces for their businesses and homes. In 2015, Tenure Ceramics was officially launched in Nashville, Tennessee.

WHY WHEEL-THROWN WORKS

On a microscopic level, clay particles (called platelets) are disorganized until the potter compresses them by wedging and further by wheel-throwing. On the wheel, the compression started by wedging is further developed, and the clay platelets are laminated together. The result is an organized spiral platelet structure that is tight and strong.

Ceramic is a thermodynamic material, it expands when exposed to extreme heat and contracts when cooled. Since the platelet structure of wheel-thrown work is organized, a finished piece of pottery generally returns to that structure once it cools. If not carefully crafted, a finished piece of pottery may soften a bit every time it heats and cools, gradually losing strength.

This isn’t much of an issue for pottery used at home, but high-temp dishwashers are often used in restaurants to sanitize tableware. Due to the heat and heavy use pottery gets in this environment, inferior work can quickly loose density and more easily break. Although it requires more time and skill to make, well crafted wheel-thrown tableware is ultimately a more enduring addition to your restaurant or home.