Social life

Brett McDonough: Piedmont Potter

(Last Updated On: October 19, 2016)

localtalent-brettpictureBrett McDonough began his life as a potter in 2001 when he took a ceramics class in Watauga High School in Boone. Since then, his skills have turned him into a teacher, an artist and co-founder of Greensboro’s Potters of the Piedmont Pottery Festival.

The potter’s themes explore illustration work, often working with cartoon designs. He also works with sculpture and makes 3D cartoon characters.

“I started out wanting to be an illustrator and pottery fulfilled the textile part,” said McDonough. “Illustrating on a computer wouldn’t really do for me. I was able to make pots and paint on those.“

McDonough’s pottery currently sits in downtown Greensboro’s Greenhill Gallery. He has participated in their winter shows since 2009.

In 2013, McDonough got to do an animation day show at the Greenhill Gallery. He made a stop motion movie with fire pieces. With about 120 pots, he formed a five second long stop motion clip.

McDonough has been teaching more. He just began teaching at the same high school he went to, filling the shoes of the teacher that first got him started in his career.

“I always enjoyed teaching pottery because first of all, I can get ideas off of something a student did, like I never thought to do it that way and see where that takes me,” said McDonough. “It is cool seeing the ideas that I show to be re-interpreted in a different way by students.”

After living in Greensboro for 12 years, McDonough has moved to Boone to teach. He hopes to get a new studio established and is excited to explore a new community.

“Greensboro has a really wonderful community of potters and I don’t have that here yet,” he said. “In Greensboro, any mentor I had, I developed a pretty strong personal relationship.”

The mentors that McDonough is still in touch with include Charlie Tefft from Guilford College and Molly Lithgo and Jim Rientjes who founded Greensboro’s Earthwork’s Pottery.

“The entire pottery community are all pretty close-knit people who work together really well,” said McDonough. “Breaking into that community was something I thought would be really hard, but everyone was so inviting, helpful and inspiring.”

McDonough plans to return to Greensboro on Nov. 12 for the Potters of the Piedmont Festival. For more information visit: