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Tonya Johnson

Owner Tonya Johnson came to Louisville from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky in 1991 to attend the University of Louisville. While completing her undergraduate degree in biology, Tonya enrolled in a ceramics class with Ginny Marsh, fulfilling a lifelong fascination in clay. This class ignited her passion for pottery and changed the course of her life.

Cooking and feeding people – lots of people – has always been an important part of my life, consequently, my focus is functional ceramics. As a traditional craftsperson/artist in our modern world, I create utilitarian pieces that are durable and practical, yet expressive and aesthetically pleasing. My work reflects who I am and what is significant to me. In a cabinet full of dishes, my one-of-a-kind pieces take on their own personality. You will find yourself looking for your favorite mug, a certain bowl, or that one dish that feels just the way you like. My pots are large, full, sturdy forms that capture and hold intentional marks in the malleable clay. I finish them by dipping and pouring with food-safe glazes that drape and enhance their strong traditional forms, before high-firing them in gas and electric kilns – creating an enduring personal legacy in clay.


Tonya graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Art, and Psychology in 1994 and a Master of Arts in Ceramics in 1999. She opened Payne Street Pottery in August of 2000, the realization of both a lifelong love of creating and a desire to develop an inviting space in which to share ideas and inspiration while teaching others the joy of working with clay.


Since 1998, Tonya has taught all around Kentuckianna including, The University of Louisville, Jefferson Community College (KCTCS), Jefferson County Adult Continuing Education, The Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, The Carnegie Center, and The Jewish Community Center. At the same time, she built her own home studio with electric and gas fired kilns to fire her work for local retail shows, sales, and festivals. In 2007 she attended The Kentucky Craft Market and The Philadelphia Buyers Market and began distributing her hand-made, functional ceramics to galleries from Maine to Florida on the East coast and to state park gift shops as far as Arizona. Today, Tonya teaches in her home studio and sells her pottery in the gallery there….open for special sales, by appointment, or by chance : )

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