Irmtraud Hellen Thornton

April 4, 1940 - April 1, 2023
Irmtraud Hellen Thornton

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Traudi Thornton (April 4, 1940- March 30, 2023)

Traudi Thornton was born in Czechoslovakia in 1940. She first studied music at Creighton University before studying ceramics with Henry Soreco at Creighton, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and raku in a workshop with Paul Soldner at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1972, She returned to Germany and joined a cooperative art community in which she lived and worked on ceramics.

Love precipitated her move to Wilmington in 1983. She once again built a ceramic studio and began teaching ceramics at the Community Art Center where she influenced many budding ceramists.

Traudi said, “Working with clay validates my existence. During the plastic state, the relationship is that of master and a much beloved pet. I tell the clay to stay and push it, but often I have to listen. We have a rhythm. Clay needs heat to be transferred to a hard material. After the first fire everything turns from a state of grey to pink, and a slight estrangement takes place because they now look different than what they did before. Glazes also look pink or white or grey before they are fired. I imagine now how the optics will look in their final state, and after making choices the second fire takes over. Total surrender is demanded by heat and flame. After the firing is completed, the cooling period leaves my mood fluctuating between doubt and hope. And, then only after removing the pieces from the kiln, can I say they belong to me.”

Traudi is survived by the family she chose and loved here in Wilmington, NC and by her nephew and family who live in Germany.

A celebration of Traudi’s life will be held at a later date.

Please leave memories and condolences for Traudi’s family by signing the Tribute Wall below.

Wilmington Funeral and Cremation Service.


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  • May 26, 2023
    June S. Tilden says:
    Traudi, I think about you often. It never occurred to me that you would not always be present. I took that for granted and now I am reminded to cherish each day. Visiting your home, your studio, your garden, where ever you were. was always special. You expressed genuine care for your friends. You were generous. The pottery that I am fortunate enough to have in my home will be a continual reminded of your loving presence. Thank you for being in my life.

  • May 17, 2023
    WALT BAYER says:
    I was her brother, the last born of 4. May she , my Father and Mother, Hugo and Gunda all reast in peace!