By Katy Macek | Photographed by Hillary Schave and Shanna Wolf
When high-school sweethearts Tom and Diana Johnston married in 1972, their goal was to build a career working together. With 47 years of marriage, the Mineral Point couple has done just that.
The Johnstons own Brewery Pottery, a 20,000-square-foot property on the edge of Mineral Point that has been home to a brewery, winery and a weaving museum and workshop. Now, the space houses their living quarters upstairs, a downstairs gallery and enough studio space for both of them to pursue their passions: pottery, for them both, and Diana’s welding and painting.
“This is the most amazing building we’ve ever seen,” Diana says. “It’s a big space so we can stretch out and have as many studios as we want.” And they do. Diana’s painting studio is upstairs off of their dining room, while the main floor gallery opens into the pottery studio where they roll and throw clay into the many mugs, bowls and various items they sell in the gallery (though the gallery also sells regional artists’ work).
On the opposite end of the building is a kiln room. In the basement is what Diana calls the “department of fun,” where her welding studio exists, complete with an assortment of metals she’s gathered over the years from flea markets and salvage yards.
The original caverns where the brewery’s beer was stored still stand in the basement and the spring where the brewery got its water still runs through the lower level of the building.
“It’s got all the history, and I feel inspired by being here,” she says. “Actually, I almost never leave.”
The Johnstons say they have always lived in the same space they’ve worked in, blurring the line between work and home.
“It is such a lifestyle,” Tom says. “There are so many things to be done: dishes have to be washed, grass has to be mowed, pots have to be made. It’s one huge lifestyle.”
The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through December, so Tom says that’s when most of their pottery gets done. But, Diana adds, it’s not a set schedule.
“If people come in, less studio work gets done,” she says. “We enjoy the flexibility of, ‘whatever the day brings, it brings.’”
The Johnstons’ tips to maximize creativity:
- Make what you love, not what people want you to make, Tom says. “Put your whole self into it.”
- Dedicate a space, even if it’s just a corner or a desk, Diana says. That way, “You have all the riches there and ready to be turned into something.”
- Set aside time, even if it’s just an hour a week, and don’t let anything get in the way of that. “Even if you don’t feel inspired, just go and stand in your space” for that time, Diana says.