The story of Thomas Bothe is the classic case of what happens when you follow your bliss. After being laid off from his job as an engineer in 1993, Thomas reflected on what he might like to do next.
As a result he went to Pittsburgh for a few weeks to help in his brother’s Fine Furniture design business. He found himself drawn to the creative, hands-on work life. Later that fall, Thomas took his first pottery class with Stephen Merritt at Rochester Institute of Technology.
In addition, pottery classes and time working alongside his brother convinced him that he had to give pottery a try. In the fall of 1994 Thomas dedicated the next year to developing his skills as a potter. He hasn’t looked back on his pottery career ever since.
While Thomas acquired a job in production pottery at Earth Tones Pottery, he also became a studio tech at the Manchester Craftsmen Guild (MCG) in Pittsburgh. He progressed to resident artist at MCG, where he learned glazes, fired cone 10 reduction kilns and taught pottery and hand building. He also attended numerous workshops and lectures by ceramic artists such as Ken Ferguson, Karen Karnes, Michael Simon, Richard Aerni, and David McDonald.
At night, Thomas began developing his own signature style. Four years later, he began selling raku and functional pottery at shows, which allowed him to give up his “day jobs.”
Today Thomas exhibits his single-fired wood-ash glazed pottery at juried art festivals across the country. In 2010 he began to include his crystalline work at his shows. Thomas is an exhibiting member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh, Ohio Designer Crafts, and the Michigan Guild.
Awards for Potter Thomas Bothe
Thomas’s work has received several awards for his work, including:
- 2015 1st in Ceramics, Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show, Castile, NY
- 2015 Outstanding Craftsmanship, A Fair in the Park, Pittsburgh PA
- 2015 Honors, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
- 2015 Award of Merit, Boardwalk Art Show and Festival, Virginia Beach, VA
- 2014 1st in Ceramics, Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show, Castile, NY
- 2014 Best in Show, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
- 2013 Sand Dollar Award, Boardwalk Art Show and Festival, Virginia Beach, VA
- 2013 Third in Ceramics, Summerfair, Cincinnati, OH
- 2010 Third in Ceramics, Boardwalk Art Show and Festival, Virginia Beach, VA
When he’s not in the studio Thomas can be found playing Irish button box, jazz piano, chess, golf, or bicycling. He lives in scenic Washington, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh, with his wife, Francine, and their seven cats.