Betty Woodman was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1930. Growing up, her father’s job as a woodworker and artist along with her mother’s feminist values inspired Woodman to pursue an art career. Having taken her first pottery class at 16 years old, Woodman went on to study ceramics at Alfred University in New York City. For almost two decades after leaving Alfred, Woodman worked as a production potter, creating functional ceramic vessels. In the 1970s, Woodman began experimenting with alternative forms and shapes of ceramics and ultimately abandoned functional pottery altogether.
Woodman became an art professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1978, where she would teach for 20 years alongside her husband, George Woodman, the head of the university’s art department. Outside of her teaching, Woodman opened and ran the Pottery Lab, a recreational ceramics studio in Boulder, Colorado where individuals could come to make pottery for fun or study to become a professional. Woodman also spent a lot of her off-time traveling to Italy where she gained artistic inspiration from ancient Mediterranean ceramics.