As a little boy growing up in the country, Joseph Sand loved to scoop up clay in the root cellar and form little cubes with it. It wasn’t until his early 20s, though, that he knew he would one day make his living as a potter.
Born in 1982 and raised outside the small, southern Minnesota town of Austin (pop. 24,718), Joseph excelled at art at an early age. He stored Play-Doh for his creations in the family’s broken dishwasher and learned to draw hockey players and other athletes while studying with a sports illustrator.
University of Minnesota
After graduating from high school in 2001, Joseph went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He planned to study graphic design, but after feeling detached from an art form that required him to use a computer, Joseph changed his mind. In 2006, he earned a BFA in general studio art with a ceramics emphasis.
Prior to graduating college, Joseph studied art for one year in Cortona, Italy, through the University of Georgia-Athens. It was there that he sat at a pottery kick wheel in a 12th Century building and knew instinctively how to center clay. His future career was born.
Back in the States, Joseph received the very competitive Katherine E. Sullivan Scholarship from the University of Minnesota. He used the scholarship to study art and design at the University of Wolverhampton, England.
Apprenticing with North Carolina’s Mark Hewitt
During his time in England, Joseph heard from other potters about Mark Hewitt, an English potter who lived in Pittsboro, N.C. While back in Minnesota at Christmastime, a potter he knew had completed an apprenticeship with Mark and suggested Joseph do the same. Joseph talked with Mark over the telephone, and then flew to North Carolina to meet him the following week. After three days, Joseph was offered the three-and-a-half year apprenticeship under the master potter.
To learn more about Joseph’s apprenticeship with Mark, listen to this interview on Craft in America.
Joseph met his wife, Amanda, at a wedding in Duluth, Minn., during his senior year in college. The couple married in 2007 and have two sons, Owen and Jacob. The family lives on 16 acres near Randleman, where they established a pottery.
Joseph built, brick by brick, a 40-foot-long, 8-foot-wide kiln, which he fires using pine slab offcuts from a local sawmill. Joseph based his kiln off of the anagama kilns, a type of kiln brought to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th Century. He was able to build the kiln thanks to a loan from a friend, crowdsourcing funds, and receiving the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Award from the Durham Arts Council.
Joseph combines the styles of traditional, Southern alkaline glaze ware and East Asian design, among others. Using two wood-fired kilns, he produces both salt and ash-glazed wares, ranging in size from very large sculptural vases to planters and a variety of beautiful, functional tableware. In 2015, he expanded his creative range to include large, hand-built sculptural ceramics.
Over the years, Joseph has received many grants, honors, and awards. He has also participated in a variety of exhibitions. Read his resume to learn more.