Hamilton was born in Columbia, SC, and spent his early years living in Kingstree, a small town in the South Carolina low country... a land of lazy black water rivers and old oaks and cypress hung heavy with Spanish moss. His family eventually came to settle in the North Carolina foothills where Hamilton continues to live and work. Like most adventurous young boys, Hamilton's initial introduction to clay was digging cool grey stoneware clay out of the ditches and creek banks around his childhood home. He encountered clay again in the more formal settings of high school and college but it wasn't until Hamilton took a class with Setuya Kotani at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro that he plunged headlong into a lifetime of working with clay. After finishing college Hamilton returned to the family home in Hickory, NC, and set up his first studio producing stoneware pottery to sell at juried shows and festivals. Pretty quickly his pots found their way into shops and galleries throughout North Carolina and the Southeast. Within a few years Hamilton moved his studio to a larger space in Valdese, NC, and became a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. A few years ago, the pottery production again began to outgrow his studio space and led to the move to the studio's current location in historic downtown Morganton and the opening of Hamilton Williams Gallery.
Though many diverse influences inform Hamilton's work, his love of landscape and food as well as sense of space rank the highest. Hamilton can often be found hiking through the rugged landscape of the Appalachian mountains, losing himself among granite boulders and rushing streams. "It really doesn't matter where I am," says Hamilton, "If I can get away from the crowds and cities and just see the landscape rolling out ahead of me, I'm much calmer and happier." Working at the potter's wheel provides Hamilton with a similar sense of calm, putting all of his attention into the one simple act of shaping a pot. At the end of the day, however, comes the evening meal and along with it the daily ritual of preparing and cooking food. For Hamilton, the act of preparing a meal is one of the keys to thoroughly enjoying one's dining experience. "The rhythmic sound of chopping vegetables, the colors and textures of peppers or cucumbers or cauliflower, the aroma of blending spices and caramelizing sugars... these are the things that move a meal into the realm of sublime experience." An invitation to dinner is always a welcome treat among Hamilton's friends and family, and when it comes to entertaining Hamilton becomes very conscious of how different foods present on his pottery. "I'm always trying to think of the perfect platter for the sauteéd green beans or the best dish from which to serve She-Crab Soup," observes the artisan as he mulls over what to have for lunch.