Made in Plano: Holman Pottery

Tony Holman designs beautiful pottery for everyday life. He’s also dreamed up a few solutions to your kitchen conundrums in his historic home on 18th Street in downtown Plano.

When you first walk up the well-worn steps of this quaint, Queen Anne-style Victorian cottage, you’ll know right away an artist lives here. Once inside, after being greeted by Tony’s wife, Debbie, you’ll discover three galleries filled with eclectic art, most of it made by Holman, as well as work from a few other artists. You’ll also find an open studio where you’ll likely catch the artist himself busy at the wheel. Out in the backyard are his kilns for firing the work and some very cool, funky yard art. When they aren’t working, which is rare, the Holmans reside upstairs.

The Holmans live and work in this historic home in downtown Plano

Tony and Debbie Holman have owned and operated Holman Pottery in Plano for 27 years. Tony’s job is to dream up, design, throw (referring to how the pottery is created on the potting wheel) and finish (referring to carving, glazing and painting) the pottery. Debbie manages all the business and marketing operations. Their daughter Maggie, a Plano Senior High graduate now off to college, was reared in the studio and knows how to help dad wax the bottoms of pots, tweak a design to ensure it’ll sell and take over at the register so mom can show customers around the gallery. It’s always been a family business where everyone has a job to do.

Tony and Debbie Holman in Tony’s studio

Once they decided to make their art dreams a vocation, Tony and Debbie developed and marketed Holman Pottery. Within the first year Debbie quit her job to manage the business full time. They now fill big and small orders to stores, boutiques and museums all over the U.S., including the gift shop at the Smithsonian and several online and catalog retailers.

Two of the most popular pieces are the omelet and bacon cookers. These two gems not only enable users to quickly and easily prepare that perfect breakfast combo fave, they’re also handmade pieces of art. They look great on kitchen display too.

The front room of Holman Pottery is a gallery featuring Tony’s work, as well as work of other artists

To say Tony is an ambitious artist would be an understatement. He can throw and finish 200 each of the bacon and omelet cookers in a day or two to fill an order. He loves what he does and he works fast. He mixes his own glazes and goes through one ton of clay per month. As each piece is handmade, no two pieces look alike. Each has its own character. Tony has created lots of unique, problem-solving gadgets for the kitchen, as well as dinnerware in vintage, Americana, festive or modern glazes.

Tony at work in his home studio
Holman Pottery’s Bread and Oil Plate in Desert pattern

Want to get hands dirty playing in the mud? Holman Pottery offers a couple of workshops: one for adults called Cheap Wine and Pretzels and another for Girl Scouts. At each workshop you’ll learn how to sit at the wheel and actually throw a pot. The Scouts earn a badge and the adults enjoy a glass of wine and good times with friends.

The workshops are a great way for the Holmans to stay connected to their community. When you’re throwing hundreds and hundreds of pieces to fill your gallery shelves and orders for retailers all over the country, it’s nice to slow down for a minute and teach some eager folks how to create something out of clay.

Tony keeps track of his designs the old-school way: by hand

“Making a living at art, while raising a family, hasn’t always been easy but it’s all we’ve ever known and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” said Tony Holman.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Kathy Ware

    Great story! We took our Girl Scout troop there. Tony had so much information to share about the history of the neighborhood, his home and Pottery. Our troop loved and so did I.

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