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Daniel Rodney Finch is a master potter as well as a farmer and nurseryman. He was born in Wilson in 1946. He grew up in Bailey, where he still lives. He attended Mount Pleasant Schoool through the eighth grade and graduated from Bailey High School. Deciding he didn’t want to go either to college or back to the farm, he took off for New York, Chicago, and the West Coast, eventually moving to Texas. He then decided to come home and attend East Carolina, where he majored in Education. Finch taught Industrial Arts and continued to work part time on his father’s farm, where they focused on peaches and blueberries (“Pick Your Own”) and experimentation with tobacco and other plants. He and his wife took a pottery class at Wilson Tech in the 1960s, then Wilson Community College, and he was hooked. Over the years he studied pottery techniques with different potters and established his own studio. He explains that he resisted the pressure to move to Seagrove, and says he has done well with what for a long time was the only pottery studio in Nash County. He has taught pottery at Wilson Community College and Nash Community College, and holds regular open studios for local potters every Thursday (one session in the day, another at night). These workshops, he says, have been very popular (he always has a waiting list) and he describes how the friendship-building and camaraderie have always been the most gratifying aspects. His pottery workshops are a nonprofit enterprise, with only two rules: clean up after yourself, and no intimidating others. The workshop attendees have taken trips together to other pottery sites and enjoyed demonstrations by visiting artists, and they always eat together potluck style when they come to the studio. Finch also holds two major limited-attendance workshops a year, one in spring and one in the fall, for which people sign up months in advance. He talks about his philosophy of clay and its nature, why people are attracted to it, art vs. craft, the different types of clay, the different styles of potting and glazing and firing, the physics of brickmaking, the processes involved in taking raw clay through the slurry stage to workable substance, “recipes” for clay mixing (e.g., raw clay, silica, feldspar, brobidanite), and different types of kilns. He talks in detail about raku pottery and the chemistry/heat of different glazes. Finch also talks about how to design and maintain successful workshops. He says he normally puts in 40 hours a week of work, mostly on pottery (including firing and running his kilns, making his own pots, teaching, running his studios, and taking care of business tasks) but also helping his father in the nursery and working with visitors who come to learn about blueberry cultivation and the sweet potato research they’ve started. He also helps his father build and maintain bluebird nesting boxes and propagate pawlonia trees.

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