Gary and Daphne Hatcher: Formed in Place

By and for potters

Gary and Daphne Hatcher are certainly not unique in their pursuits and accomplishments; thankfully there are potters across the country who share similar trajectories, success stories, and longevity. Yet their forty-two-plus years running Pine Mills Pottery near Mineola, Texas, bears honoring and celebrating. They epitomize the core constituency at the origin of Studio Potter journal, “by and for potters.” Their list of accomplishments begins with apprenticeships. From 1976 to 78 they studied with Michael and David Leach in England. From there the accomplishments continued: building their studio and wood kiln in rural East Texas; establishing a loyal clientele who have now returned through three generations; and adapting their marketing and sales to the digital age. The simple fact of sustained self-employment for more than forty years is significant, but this accomplishment is amplified by their unflagging commitment to high quality production and the full integration of their livelihood into a holistic lifestyle. Married when they were twenty, they have spent their lives wholly committed to each other and the shared belief that making art would sustain them financially and in all other facets of their lives. That they pioneered a model of astute entrepreneur and passionate creator is perhaps most noteworthy in a day when this combination of skill sets seems standardized; it was not when the Hatchers began.
But seriously, living in Wood County in East Texas, in the woods, firing a wood kiln? Is this a fairy tale? In one sense it might seem so if you reduce their experience to a “follow your dream” simplification. And Gary does emphasize that this all came to pass through visualization and holding fast to that vision. But their enduring energy, discipline, hard work, and adaptability is what really converted their vision to a lived reality.  

(The following is excerpted and adapted from nine hours of recorded oral history of Gary and Daphne Hatcher’s life together in clay.)