Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
His fingernails and orange shirt caked in grey clay, Tony Treadway laughs at the day he told his mother, a math teacher, he wanted to pursue art.
“It was as fun as a nuclear weapon would be,” Treadway said.
With an above average math score on the ACT, in no way was Treadway’s mother expecting him to become an art major. Her eyes went dim at such an unexpected career choice, Treadway said.
Although at the time his mother did not approve of his choice, Tony did earn a Master of Arts at Eastern Illinois University.
“My passion lies in a different area than hers,” Treadway said.
Walking around The Artisans Galleria located in downtown Shelbyville, a person can enjoy the pots ranging in color from scarlet red to deep blue, and each skillfully made by Treadway.
Treadway keeps his shop open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. He also ships work individually to customers all across the US and owns retail locations all through Illinois and Indiana, Treadway said.
Treadway may own his own pottery shop now, but art had not always been his dream. Originally, he had wanted to go into special education and teach disabled children, Treadway said.
He had not even considered art, until he suffered a hand injury playing football and needed an activity to help rebuild his strength.
Treadway discovered he had a passion for art, but he would come to have times he would regret his decision.
“One of the things about being an artist is that you are always questioning yourself, but when you question yourself is when creativity takes off,” Treadway said.
Two years ago, during a particularly dreary winter storm at around 7:15 p.m., Treadway stared out his house window and searched for inspiration.
Not until he saw the windswept willow tree was he spurred into action at his wife’s suggestion that he should draw the tree on a plate, Treadway recalled.
Now, customers can walk in his store and see numerous plates with the same willow tree design he created years ago.
“Yeah, I get those moments of doubt, but there is something so self-fulfilling about art,” Treadway said.
Around The Artisans Galleria, there are not simply pots and plates, but pieces of Treadway’s past. Some pieces are decorated with swaying prairie grass Treadway remembers seeing on a lake bank near his store.
And despite her past misgivings, Treadway’s mother sells many of his works for charity events.
“I am the first person she calls,” Treadway said.