Posts Tagged ‘Celebration of Seagrove Potters’

My Not So Annual Trip to the Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC

Monday, November 28th, 2016

I didn’t get to go to the first Celebration of Seagrove Potters in 2008, but I’ve been writing about it way before then, since I got myself in the middle of a heated battle going on in Seagrove, NC, the center of pottery in North Carolina. There was a fight going on between a slick festival promoter, his Seagrove sidekick, and a group of long term potters from the Seagrove area – potters who’s families have been throwing pots in the area for generations. And I think time has proven that I took the right side way back when – now nine Celebrations ago.

I’m not going to rehash the problem or even name names – mostly because no one can hardly remember the other two dudes. That’s what happens when a new idea becomes an annual success. And, that’s what the Celebration of Seagrove Potters is – a resounding success. 2017 will be its 10th anniversary – our 30th in doing an arts publication and the 20th for Carolina Arts. How time flies.

When we got our tickets in the mail from the good folks at the Celebration, Linda had to do some horse trading to get a few days off from her 911 job and we booked a room in a hotel in Asheboro, NC, where everyone else there is either going to the Celebration or the NC Zoo.

It’s about a five hour trip from Bonneau Beach, SC, the headquarters of PSMG, Inc. to Seagrove – depending on how many stops we have to make. The older we get the more stops it seems to take. Maybe with all that infrastructure building our new President has promised the I-74/73 highway will get finished and it will be down to a four hour trip, but we won’t hold our breath.

When we got to the hotel we got a surprise – the woman who checked us in was the sister of Rhonda McCanless, who used to write a column about Seagrove for us before she went to work for the STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise in Star, NC. Rhonda is married to Eck McCanless, one of the overly talented McCanless clan of potters and musicians in the Seagrove area. You might say that in Seagrove potters grow on trees – family trees that is.

Next stop was the Friday night Gala at the Celebration at the historic Luck’s Cannery just outside of downtown Seagrove. That’s an inside joke for anyone who has been to Seagrove. There’s not much of a town there, but it is the capital of pottery in North Carolina – pretty much the Southeast. And on the weekend before Thanksgiving every year the Celebration of Seagrove Potters takes place featuring over 75 local potters. This town might be small but it goes big when it comes to pottery events in that – believe it or not – there’s another big pottery festival which takes place that same weekend in another location. So little old Seagrove offers two major pottery events on the same weekend. It’s pottery madness.

The Gala is a special event made for serious collectors, who pay $45 to get a first chance to buy the latest works right out of the kiln and a chance at owning special collaborative works, created by two area potters, offered at a live auction. These one-of-a-kind works are fought over by collectors who want something no one else can own. It’s a fundraiser, so when the bidding gets hot – the winner does a lot of good for the pottery community. One of these works, a pot created by Ben Owen III of Ben Owen Pottery and Takura Shibata of Studio Touya went for over $1,450+. This was a sort of East meets West creation since Takura and his wife Hitomi, also a gifted potter, moved from Japan to USA and then Seagrove. But some bidders got some real bargains.

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This was a work created by Zeke McCanless of Dover Pottery and Frank Neef of Pottery by Frank Neef – it’s high bid almost reached $1,000.

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This is the pot by Ben Owen III of Ben Owen Pottery and Takura Shibata of Studio Touya

But the Gala is much more than buying pottery – it’s good food and drink with live entertainment, good conversation with the folks who create all these wonderful pots, and an opportunity to learn about this pottery community as several organizations are also involved – the NC Pottery Center and STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise, which is not only involved in promoting pottery, pottery supplies, glass making, glass making equipment, teaching classes, and much more.

Of course you can get a lot of this during the sales event Sat. and Sun., but you’ll miss out on the collaborative works. Admission is only $5 these days and parking is free.

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For me – it’s mostly about conversations and some adding to our pottery collection. And that’s why I don’t have hundreds of images of pottery to show you. I talk too much and forget to take photos, but then again I want you to go experience this event yourself not just look at my pictures of the event.

If you have never been to Seagrove and you like pottery, going will be an experience you’ll never forget. Some folks make going there a regular habit. Many do their holiday shopping during the Celebration. Oh the lucky folks on their lists. If you have been there but it was some time ago – new potters are moving there and setting up shop all the time. And, of course there are always new generations of historic pottery families coming on line.

The 10th Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters will take place Nov. 17-19, 2017. For more information about that and other events taking place in Seagrove visit (www.DiscoverSeagrove.com).

So here’s some more images of our visit this year.

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Our first stop is always the Whynot Pottery booth, the folks who first got me to Seagrove. These art tiles being shown are being offered through Acacia Art Tile at Whynot and are made by Meredith Heywood.

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Our next stop is usually to the Bulldog Pottery booth, where we’ll meet up with Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson and their crew Gloria and Ed Henneke, Samantha’s parents.

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This clay dog is guarding the booth for Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery. He was created by Carol Gentithes.

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Here’s a face jug by Sid Luck of Luck’s Ware, Sid is a cultural treasure in North Carolina.

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Here’s a view of the booth of Dean & Martin Pottery (love that name). They incorporate images from the 60’s in their work. I knew most of the people I saw on their pots – how is that possible – oh yeah – I’m old.

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This little bear is having fun with a butterfly at the Crystal King Pottery booth.

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Here’s a view of works at the Ben Owen Pottery booth.

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Always a favorite stop for Linda is the JLK Jewelry booth. I finally got Linda to stop looking and buy something.

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OK – you’re wondering what this jewelry has to do with a pottery event. All the stones you see in these works are made of clay.

There were lots of other booths we visited who had wonderful works, but as I said I talk to much and forgot to take photos.

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Now speaking about talking too much – it has it cost. Last year I had my eye on adding a work to our collection from Ray Pottery. I love red in artwork, but I spent too much time talking last year and by the time I got back to their booth – the pieces I had my eye on were gone. So it was a first order of business this year and their booth was across from Whynot Pottery’s booth, but no one was there. That was frustrating as I knew I’d get talking again. Mark Heywood said to pick what I wanted and he’d hold it for me until the Ray Pottery booth was open for business. Now that’s service and a reflection of this community.

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Here’s a side view of this piece. There’s lot of details to enjoy.

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I also got this mug from Whynot Pottery to match a little pot we found while visiting Whynot’s studio last year. It was a glaze that they had used in the past but had trouble getting it to come out right in the kiln process – so it was a real find. Well they have worked out that process and had lots of works with this glaze available this year. Oh, you didn’t know that most of the potters at the Celebration also opened their studio/galleries during that weekend so you can see even more of their works – well they do.

Hey folks, stick with me and I’ll let you know all the things I’m learning. In fact, I’m thinking of organizing a tour bus to the 10th Celebration from the Charleston, SC, area next year. Stay tuned for details.

Some Events I Wish I Were Going to This Week in the Carolinas

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Unfortunately travel is not in my plans this week, which means I’m going to miss some of my favorite happenings including: Vista Lights in Columbia, SC; the Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC; and the opening of the new Art Trail Gallery in Florence, SC.

I would have racked up some miles, but I have done such a trip in the past many times. Gas prices are down and lower in some of these areas, but even though I can’t make any of these three favorites – you can. You don’t have to be a road warrior like me in doing all three, but there are many combinations that can be very satisfying – any one would be well worth your effort.

First up is the 27th Vista Lights celebration in the Congaree Vista area of Columbia, SC, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, from 5-9pm. Kick off your holiday shopping and fun at this annual holiday street party! The entire Vista community will take part, with Gervais Street closed to traffic from Gadsden to Assembly streets, and Park and Lincoln closed from Lady to Senate.

Everyone loves a tree lighting and the Vista tree lighting promises to kick off the season! The traditional tree-lighting ceremony, will be held at 7pm. This year’s spectacular lighting will be hosted my Mayor Steve Benjamin. You will find the tree located on the corner of Lincoln and Gervais Street outside of the River Runner shop. There are many performances planned, but for me, it’s the visual art offerings that usually brings me to Vista Lights.

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Work by Wanda Steppe

City Art at 1224 Lincoln Street, just behind the River Runner where the tree is located, will offer the exhibit, Sticks and Stones, featuring an exhibit of works by artist/painter Wanda Steppe, on view through Dec. 23, 2012. See more info about more events taking place this evening by visiting (www.cityartonline.com).

if ART Gallery at 1223 Lincoln Street is offering the exhibit, 18/100 SOUTHERN ARTISTS: The if ART Contingency, on view through Nov. 17, 2012. The exhibit features works by 18 if ART artists included in the new book “100 Southern Artists”.

One Eared Cow Glass Gallery & Studio at 1001 Huger St., (just up the street from the old location) is a little ways from the center of activities, but worth the visit. The cowboys will be demonstrating glass blowing and you can pick from works that were featured this year at the “Four Seasons” display at the SC State Fair while items last. This is your opportunity to have an item associated with the largest display of hand-blown glass in SC or the Southeast. You can see that display on their website at (www.oneearedcow.com).

The Gallery at Nonnah’s at 928 Gervais Street will be offering the exhibit,Altered Cities: Melding Cityscapes with Landscapes, featuring works by Alicia Leeke, on view through Dec. 31, 2012. For more info visit (www.nonnahs.com).

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Work by Jeff Donavan and Susan Lenz of Vista Studios

Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 at 808 Lady Street, will present the exhibit,Season’s Harvest, featuring recent works by Vista Studios’ artists, on view through Nov. 27, 2012. Many of the artists will have their studios open so you can see where and how these artists create. See more about the activities there at (www.vistastudios80808.com).

Other art galleries in the area will be open, as well as many of the shops and businesses in the area. Vista Lights is free to the public and offers a great way to kick-off the holiday Season! Visitors are encouraged to arrive early, shop up an appetite and stay late. Just because the official celebration ends at 9pm doesn’t mean you can’t stay for some late-night entertainment and a nightcap. For more info visit (http://www.vistalightssc.com/about.aspx).

The 5th Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters will be held indoors at the historic Luck’s Cannery, on NC 705, Pottery Highway, one half-mile south of the traffic light in Seagrove, NC, from Nov. 16 – 18, 2012. The weekend begins with the Celebration Gala on Friday, Nov. 16, from 6-9pm, which includes a catered reception, live music, and the collaborative works auction. The Celebration continues on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9am-6pm, with a silent auction, from 1-3pm, and again opens on Sunday, Nov. 18, from 10am-4pm.

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Collaborative piece by Jugtown Pottery and JLK Jewelry

The Celebration is distinctive; it is a showcase of the pottery artists of Seagrove, an area that covers the three county corner region of Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties in North Carolina. Over 100 Seagrove potters, from 64 shops, are participating this year.

Now a trip to Seagrove is always an adventure in that there is hardly a road that you can drive down where you won’t run into several potteries. The gently rolling hills and farms make a picturesque journey while finding the next shop on the map you picked up at the NC Pottery Center in downtown Seagrove. But, if you’re a die hard shopper who feels more at home in the local Mall – the Celebration is made for you. Many of the area’s potters will be found under one roof.

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Collaborative piece by Peder Wilhelm McCanless and Michael Mahan

And, if you’re a hard core pottery collector, the Friday Night Gala is where you want to be for the collaborative works auction, matching different potters in the area to work on a one-of-a-kind item.

Admission to the Friday night Gala is $40 in advance. Gala tickets and more info are available at (www.CelebrationofSeagrovePotters.com), admission on Sat. & Sun. is $5 at the door and children 12 and under are free. For more info on potters of the Seagrove community and other local events visit (www.DiscoverSeagrove.com).

Get this – there is another pottery festival taking place in Seagrove at the same time. That’s double the pottery fun.

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Also on Friday evening of Nov. 16, 2012, from 5:30-8pm, will be the opening reception of the 2012 Holiday Show at the Art Trail Gallery’s new location at 185 West Evans Street, just around the corner from their old location on Dargon Street in downtown Florence, SC. The reception is free and open to the public. The 2012 Holiday Show is considered “the place” to purchase unique holiday gifts for every person and budget.

Gallery hours for this show will be Tue.-Thur., from 11am-6pm and Sat., from 11am-4pm. The Holiday Show will be on display until Dec. 22, 2012. Please visit the Art Trail Gallery’s website for more information at (www.art-trail-gallery.com).

The Art Trail Gallery has been a sort of backyard project for me in supporting the efforts of Jane Madden, who kept the gallery going for so many years and the volunteers and artists who have made this gallery their own. It’s never easy moving and change is hard, but this show will celebrate a successful transition from old to new, reflecting the exciting future of Florence and the Pee Dee’s growing visual art community. I wish I could be there. Maybe you can be there for me?

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Armor-dillo, by Mike and Patz Fowle, First Place Award at 2012 Pee Dee Regional

And, if you’re traveling to Florence for that event, why not go early and visit the 2012 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition, on view through Dec. 16, 2012, at the Florence Museum of Art, Science and History, located at 558 Spruce Street. The Pee Dee Regional is the oldest continuing art competition in the state and is presented by the Florence Museum Board of Trustees.

You could also take in the Magic City Survey Art Competition, on view through Jan. 4, 2013, in the Dr. N. Lee Morris Gallery at the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, located at 506 South Dargan Street in Florence. This juried exhibit features works created by artists from across the Pee Dee who followed the theme, “Southern Impressions-Depictions of Life in the South.”

Be assured that there are lots of other exciting and interesting visual art events taking place throughout the Carolinas during this same time frame, but these three were on my radar, but sometimes we never get to exercise our plans. I’m just saying this is what I was going to do – the publisher and editor of an arts newspaper for over 25 year. And, if you check out our Nov. 2012 issue of Carolina Arts you’ll soon see that if you can’t do any of these three – there is something you can attend somewhere near you. Now go do something.

A Trip to the 4th Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

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Well, after a trip to Vista Lights in Columbia, SC, I was lucky to get a day in-between before I hit the road again on my way to Seagrove, NC, a 3 1/2 hour trip North of the Carolina Arts headquarters in Bonneau, SC. When I left home it was 37 degrees and as I headed North is got a little cooler for the first hour, then it eventually started to warm up as the sun began to do its magic. I got to Seagrove just after 10am and the parking lots were pretty jammed at Luck’s Cannery, but people were leaving carrying bags full of pottery. Within a few minutes a space opened up.

Once inside the historic Luck’s Cannery I paid my $5 admission, filled out my raffle card, and got myself ready to jump into the salmon stream. My plan was to make one full run to see all the booths before I’d stop and talk with anyone. You know once I start talking everything else falls to the wayside. As most best laid plans go, I found it hard to do this in one steady stream. So, like most salmon I took some tracks ahead, some backwards, some around a corner or two to tried another route. I think three quarters of the way around I gave up and grabbed the first potter I knew – also trying to swim upstream and pulled him to the side. This was Bruce Gholson of Bulldog Pottery.

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I started the conversation with a little inside joke asking him where Phil Morgan’s booth was. That question dates back to the pottery festival wars that took place a few years ago. I think all potters in Seagrove would agree that Seagrove is BIG enough for two pottery festivals to exist – another joke as Seagrove is a very small town. Gholson gave me a look that said – you media folks really like to stir things up. It’s all water and salmon over the falls now. After a little catching up with Gholson I started my run again.

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This is a shot of the side of Ray Pottery’s booth

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Fred Johnston in the Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery Booth

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Ben Owen III in his booth

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A work at Fat Beagle Pottery booth

Once I thought I had seen everything once, the first booth I stopped into was Whynot Pottery where Meredith Heywood was fighting her own battle taking people’s money and wrapping up their purchases. This would be the theme of the day. I soon realized that this was not going to be a day of catching up with folks from Seagrove except for a few lines here and there. Even standing in a booth for a few seconds got you some looks that said – either you buy something or get out of my way, mister – a message I take in stride as my rule is the customer always comes first – conversation last.

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A shot inside Seagrove Stoneware’s booth

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A shot inside Bulldog Pottery’s booth

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Jennie Lorette Keatts behind the JLK Jewelry at Jugtown’s booth

Taking photos with my camera was a bit of a problem. Using flash to get decent images of shiny pottery is difficult without a better camera and flash unit. The lighting inside the building was way up and booths were full of extra lights that created problems for light meters in cameras, and then there was the constant flow of people. Although I will say that many times when I raised my camera to my eye – people held up to let me take a shot. At least those who saw what I was doing did. Most had that glazed look you see on people’s faces during Black Fridays. They only see what they want – they don’t see anything in between their goal of getting it.

So I spent a lot of my time looking around, gathering materials placed on tables, reading those materials and occasionally getting a word in when I could. And, there was so much to look at – works by over 60 potteries by over 100 potters. Having this opportunity for just $5 is a gas saving bargain. There is no way you could travel to all these potteries without burning up much more in gas, not to mention how many times you might get lost. But, in the Seagrove area that can be part of the journey – the countryside is beautiful.

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NC Pottery Booth

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A display of some of the paintings by potters for an upcoming fundraiser
at the NC Pottery Center. Potters can paint too – imagine that.

At one point I retreated to the first room where you enter the building which contained tables set up by related organizations like the NC Pottery Center and festival sponsors like Our State magazine. That’s also where the silent auction was taking place of donated works of pottery and then there was also the goodies table – where they had all these yummy looking treats. Pottery demos were going on and there was a special section for children’s activities and even a special area where only children could buy items at special prices. This room was less competitive.

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Here’s some big pots by Donna Craven

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Do you think this person likes Ben Owen III’s Chinese Red Pots?

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Some more big pots by Daniel Johnston

By the time I went outside for lunch the weather was in the 50′s and very nice. The Celebration had provided a full range of food vendors on site, but like most of the time when I travel I carry my food with me. I learned from my many years of delivering papers to control what goes in my body and I only eat foods that offer no surprises on the road. TMI – I know.

By lunch time the crowd began to thin a little, so I headed back in for round two where I got a few more pictures and had a few more conversations. I think it was on this run that the hunter became the hunted. At Bulldog Pottery’s booth I was “tagged” as they say on Facebook by Samantha Henneke. By the time I got home later that day there was a photo of me at the Celebration up on Facebook. She had the home-field advantage on me.

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Ed Henneke, Bruce Gholson, and Samantha Henneke at Bulldog Pottery’s
booth. I like this photo for the lady thinking how many gifts she could get in
this one booth.

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Meredith Heywood drowning in sales at the Whynot Pottery booth before her
sister came to the rescue.

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A very busy Michael Mahan at the From the Ground Up Booth

During this second run I finally got to talk with Rhonda McCanless, publisher of In the Grove, a publication about the Seagrove area. She and her husband Eck McCanless have opened their own pottery, Eck McCanless Pottery, since I was last in Seagrove and on this day she was a retailer not a publisher, although copies of In the Grove were going like hotcakes at the admission desks.

I also got a few words in with Jennie Lorette Keatts of JLK Jewelry at Jugtown. But there were some folks I was hoping to talk with but never caught them when they were not in the middle of a sale or deep in discussion with someone who sounded like they were talking about something more important than what I had to say – which was a good thing, I think. This was an important weekend for these potters as visits to Seagrove will fall off during the upcoming Winter. So, I hope they forgive me for not speaking with them – I wanted to and tried, but never got the opportunity.

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After I felt I had accomplished all I could, with the limited time I had, I headed over to the NC Pottery Center to see the exhibit, Collecting North Carolina Pottery for 75 Years, on view through Jan. 28, 2012. The North Carolina Pottery Center and The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, have partnered to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Mint Museum as an art institution with this special exhibition. In this exhibition, the Mint acknowledges the vital role of collectors, past and present, in making its North Carolina pottery collection one of the largest and most important in the country. The Mint Museum Randolph in Charlotte, NC, is also presenting a companion exhibit, A Thriving Tradition: 75 Years of Collecting North Carolina Pottery, featuring more than 100 examples of the Mint’s pottery collection, which has now grown to more than 2,100 examples that includes objects that range from the last quarter of the eighteenth century to the first decades of the twenty-first. This exhibit will be on view through Jan. 5, 2013.

All the works at the NC Pottery Center were under plastic cases, so I took no photos of any of those works. But if you’re into pottery, this is a good show to see a little of the history of NC pottery by examples – great examples.

A pretty neat thing on view at the Pottery Center was a Transparent Kiln put together by a group of Estonian ceramic instructors and students, as well as clay students from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. It shows you how a kiln would be packed as it is fired. A sight that usually only the potter sees.

It’s a good thing that the Mint Museum and the NC Pottery Center have these collections, as many of us may never get the chance to see some examples of these historical works since they all might be held in private collections – behind closed doors. And, it’s also a good thing that some of these collectors have donated their collections or parts of their collections to these institutions.

If you missed the 4th Celebration of Seagrove Potters – shame on you, but you’re in luck. You see, Seagrove is a very active pottery community – something is going on all the time. Here’s a list of some of the events going on in December.

Dec. 3, 2011, 10am-5pm – Chris Luther Pottery Kiln Opening

Dec. 3, 2011, 9am-5pm – Blaine M. Avery- Avery Pottery and Tileworks – Holiday Kiln opening

Dec. 3, 2011, 8:30am-5pm – Jugtown Pottery & JLK Jewelry at the Jugtown Holiday Kiln Opening

Dec. 3, 2011, 9am-5pm – Holiday Open House at Westmoore Pottery

Dec. 3, 2011, 10am-5pm – Thomas Pottery – 2011 Holiday Kiln Opening

Dec. 3, 2011, 10am-5pm & Dec. 4, 2011, noon-4pm – Eck McCanless Pottery Holiday Weekend

Dec. 10 & 11, 2011 – Seagrove Stoneware – Annual Kiln Opening & Gallery Sale

Dec. 17, 2011, 9am-5pm – Bulldog Pottery Holiday Kiln Opening

Dec. 17, 2011, 10am-5pm – Ben Owen Pottery – Holiday Chinese Red Kiln Opening – 2011

Dec. 17, 2011, 10am-5pm – Chris Luther Pottery Kiln Opening

For other info about what’s going on with the potters in Seagrove visit (http://www.discoverseagrove.com).

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part III

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This shouldn’t be too long (right), but I just wanted to make some observations/suggestions about the pottery festivals, Seagrove, the potters there and the NC Pottery Center.

I’ll begin with the NC Pottery Center. I know it would probably be hard to find more volunteers to do this, but I think the Center should stay open extra hours, from 4-6pm – until the Friday night Gala Preview opens for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Most people in Seagrove who support the Center are probably involved with the festival and the Gala, but there were a lot of folks who were driving by the Pottery Center after 4pm – looking for something to do.

There may have been a lot of folks who arrived in Seagrove early for the Gala – folks who may have only planned to go to the Gala, and although there were plenty of potteries open to visit – they may have hoped to see the exhibit at the NC Pottery Center – Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, which will be on view through Jan. 30, 2010..

I also think they should try to be open Sunday while both festivals are still going on. It’s the one weekend in Seagrove when the most people interested in pottery are in town and I would think it would be good for the Pottery Center to be open.

But I understand that this small town of 250 might already be stretched to capacity as to how much more it can do. So, this might be a good opportunity for those supporters of the NC Pottery Center who live outside of the Seagrove area to step up and answer the call of duty on this weekend so the Pottery Center can still man a booth at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

I hope you’ll understand why the Pottery Center is not involved with the Seagrove Pottery Festival since its organizers, the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world, have tried their best or worst to close it down.

Another observation is that I think the idea, supplied by Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery of offering collaborative works for the Gala Preview auction – is one of the greatest ideas I know of in fundraising. It brings the potters together – as if they could get any closer, creates a unique opportunity for pottery collectors (some of the potters even made bids on these works) and gives the Celebration a good promotional tool which can draw even more people to the Gala Preview.

On the question of should there be more collaborative works offered or less – I don’t know. Perhaps the number should be tied to how many advance tickets are sold to the Gala Preview. If next year’s ticket sales are increased by a few hundred more folks like this year – there may be a need for more collaborative items to be offered at the auction. But the balance is delicate as the main goal of the festival is for the potteries to sell pottery. Still, I would guess some people were drawn especially to the Gala Preview for the collaborative works.

My message to those Seagrove potters participating in the Seagrove Pottery Festival (the other pottery festival taking place in Seagrove that weekend), which I have nothing against is – look for new leadership before you become just another arts and craft festival. The Celebration of Seagrove Potters has the right idea in how to keep the heritage and traditions of the true Seagrove area alive. Your festival is drifting in the wrong direction – with the wrong captain at the wheel.

I’m not saying there is no room for two festivals – in fact, I think two festivals is drawing more people to Seagrove. Some people are probably drawn to Seagrove with the notion that they might see some sign of a feud – a feud that doesn’t really exist between the potters. There are always a few publicity hounds in every community and once they have tasted the spotlight, they’ll do anything, say anything, to keep those lights shining on them. It’s not about you, the potters – it’s always going to be about them – your fearless leaders. They are steering the ship and they don’t care where it goes – even a crash on the rocks is good attention for them. You need to start thinking for yourself – what’s good for you and what’s good for your community – not one 50 miles away.

And, finally, I hope the State of North Carolina gets that rest area and welcome center near Seagrove opened on Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) soon. And, I hope it represents the Seagrove area in a true light. There is a big difference between trying to get people to take the next exit and explore and getting them to make a 50 mile detour to Sanford, NC, to see what some people call Seagrove pottery. It’s best to keep politics out of North Carolina’s heritage and cultural offerings. No amount of legislation is going to make Sanford Seagrove or allow Sanford to replace Seagrove. Let Sanford be Sanford and Seagrove be Seagrove.

And, Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) also needs better signage informing folks traveling that road that there are not just area potteries at various exits around Seagrove – it should say that there are over 100 individual potteries in a very small area to explore. A few more words on a sign is not that much more to ask. If it was South Carolina – there would be 30 – 40 massive billboards in a 10 mile stretch. No one wants that, but a few more words on the official highway signs for Seagrove potteries would be better – much better.

PS – Did I win any of the raffles?

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part II

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Well, Saturday morning started with breakfast and a scan of the Greensboro newspaper, the News & Record to see if there was anything there about the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. There was an article there about the two pottery festivals going on in Seagrove, NC (from the High Point Enterprise). Things must be getting pretty bad at the News & Record– out of the four pages I pulled out of the paper which had the article about the festivals, most of the articles on the pages were from the High Point Enterprise, The Associated Press, Wire Reports, and the Charlotte Observer. I guess the N&R handled the obituaries. They’re looking like a cut and paste newspaper. Maybe the N&R owns the Enterprise – lets hope so. Oh well, times are tough for newspapers – Carolina Arts included.

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This article was a little one-sided, leaning toward the Seagrove Pottery Festival – with some info being supplied by the lesser of the two Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world. Having just stepped in a cow pie over numbers of potteries/potters participating at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, I thought it was funny that this Bobbsey was using the figure – “80 of the area’s potters” were at his festival. I guess that’s a pretty liberal use of the word “area”. At least he didn’t use the word Seagrove, even though he and his boss got the NC Legislature to declare several neighboring counties to officially be considered to be in the Seagrove area too. Saying it don’t make it so, but it gives them the excuse to call just about anyone they want a Seagrove potter. At least the article mentioned both pottery festivals. But, what’s the deal with featuring a Civil War re-enactment at the Seagrove Pottery Festival. I guess it fits since pretty soon, Big Boss Bobbsey Twin will want potters from Seagrove to secede from Seagrove and declare Sanford, NC, to be the real Seagrove of NC. Wait for it.

So we headed for Seagrove. It was a much shorter drive from Greensboro for me – how about that? I guess they’re right – location is everything. In my arrival Friday I only saw signs for the Celebration, but on Saturday there were a few signs for the other festival, but when it came for the turnoff from Hwy. 705 in Seagrove for the Seagrove Pottery Festival there were a couple of guys with a big sign saying “Pottery Festival” waving people to turn, but most people like us just drove right on by towards Luck’s Cannery. That was the only sign of any pottery wars going on in Seagrove.

I had forgotten that the festival on Saturday started at 9am – so we were late for the start and lots of people were piling into the parking lots and many already leaving. I guess it pays to look at your ticket stub. We ended way back around the buildings from the night before, but in a better space – closer to the entrance. Outside food vendors were well at work in getting lunch ready and the smells were great. Getting in the front door took a little longer and when we finally got in – the place was really packed.

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We sort of got to wave at some folks to let them know we were back, but the crowd didn’t exactly let us talk to people again. Plus today, my friend and official photographer of the day, Will Ravenel, was shopping. Moving around took some skill.

While trying to get to Bulldog Pottery we noticed that there was hardly anything left at Jugtown Pottery. I asked Pam Owens, one of the Owens clan from Jugtown what they were going to do for Sunday or the rest of Saturday for that matter – she shrugged her shoulders and said – maybe we won’t have to come back tomorrow? I thought that strange, but later learned that Jugtown doesn’t usually do pottery festivals, but was doing the Celebration to be supportive, and I had forgotten for the moment that all these booths – also have folks manning their regular potteries in Seagrove – where there is much more inventory.

That was another thing different about Saturday. The Friday Gala Preview had all the folks from the potteries on hand, but come Saturday some had to stay at home to manage the potteries and on the drive in there were lots of people at the potteries too.

At one point we came across a booth that was unmarked by a sign as to which pottery it was – again it helps if you pick up a program or remember to bring the one to got from the night before. People were really crowding in around this booth. We finally got close enough to see some of the pottery and we both liked what we saw. We eventually learned that this was Ray Pottery. There was a line of people with pots and objects in their hands waiting to give these folks money. Later after a few more turns around the room – there was still a line of people waiting to buy. A nice problem to have.

During a pass by Whynot Pottery, still unable to get close, I picked up a flyer for the Catawba Valley Pottery & Antiques Festival, which will take place on March, 27, 2010, at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC. They have a Friday Night Preview Party too, scheduled for March 26, 2010 – also advance tickets only.  The Festival is a fundraising event for two non-profit institutions, the Catawba County Historical Association and the North Carolina Pottery Center. More about this event in another blog entry, but you can check the link now, but come right back – I’m not finished.

Will was making purchases and some of my weekend anxiety was relieved by carrying one of his packages around. But then I started to worry about the folks I had said I couldn’t buy during this trip – seeing me with a big bag and thinking – those newspaper types – they’ll say anything. So the anxiety came right back. But at least give me credit for recruiting Will to the event, which lead to purchases of Seagrove pottery. And, besides the crowd was too heavy and the booths were so busy, I doubt anyone noticed me, much less anything else a few feet away from their nose.

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Takuro Shibata of STARworks Ceramics explaining clay making process.

Finally we found a booth that wasn’t too crowded. It was the STARworks Ceramics booth. They make clay down in Star, NC, a little south of Seagrove on Hwy 220 (the future I-74). We talked with Takuro Shibata, the director of STARworks Ceramics. We had looked up their site Friday night when we got back to Greensboro after talking with Nancy Gottovi, the executive director of STARworks NC. We also watched a video that was playing on an Apple computer in their booth (a good sign for both Will and I – diehard Apple folks) about their clay making process. Santiago Ramirez, the operations manager at STARworks Ceramics also gave us a lesson about clay that was very interesting. We were learning a lot about clay, glazes, pottery processes, and the pottery biz – which is another side of the festival which I think most of the crowd was missing, but I’m glad for the potter’s sake that most people there were interested in buying Seagrove pottery.

I did finally meet one of my first contacts with the Seagrove area, Jennie Lorette Keatts of JLK Jewelry and Shop at Jugtown Pottery. She has helped supply me with info about Seagrove and the potters there – as far as five years back, but more recently helping supply photos for the blog and coordinating Carolina Arts‘ media sponsorship of the Celebration. That’s the way it is in this biz – I deal with folks on a monthly basis – some who I have never met face to face in all these years.

I think the last potter I got a chance to talk with was Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery. That’s where I learned from his wife, Mary Holmes, that it was his idea about the collaborative pottery pieces for the auction on Friday. It takes a wife sometimes to give credit where credit is due.

We ate a lunch of stir-fry from a new restaurant which had moved from the west coast to Asheboro, NC – Pacific Rim Noodle House. That was some good eating and outside was wonderful. The selection of food was very good – it seems they had everything covered. It’s hard to believe this festival is only in its second year.

Back in the building the crowd in the back room with the booths seemed to have gotten larger and tick tock it was 1 o’clock already, a time I had set when I had to leave to return to Bonneau, SC, headquarters of Carolina Arts.

On the way out I got to see Sid Luck of Luck’s Ware doing a pottery demo for a few minutes – he makes it look so easy. I really didn’t want to leave – there was still so much to see and another auction scheduled for 4pm on Saturday, but I had to go. All good things must come to an end.

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Sid Luck doing his magic.

Before I left the building, on the way to the restroom – I’m no dummy, I noticed that there was one copy of Carolina Arts left on the check-in desk. I asked the woman standing there if that’s all they had – she said I could take it, and I said I have plenty. She looked back at me with a funny look and I replied – it’s my paper and that I have more in the car. So I went and restocked their pile. A lot of folks were probably seeing their first copy of the paper. No surprise to me, but good for us.

Leaving the cannery there were still tons of folks coming in for the festival. When back in Seagrove I decided to drive by the other festival – there were a lot of people there too – so I would guess that both festivals did well and hopefully will learn that they both offer something that will draw people to Seagrove which is good for all. Let’s hope that sinks in to one group soon, but with the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world leading them on (I mean literally leading them on) – don’t hold your breath.

Three and a half hours later I was back home in Bonneau. On the ride back home I was listening to a book on CD – Hard Row by Margaret Maron – another discovery from that area of North Carolina. Maron has provided me with background info on the pottery world in Seagrove, the furniture market in High Point and other characteristics of this area of NC. Her books are always a good listen. Perhaps her new book will be Showdown at the Seagrove Pottery Festivals – who knows.

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part I

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I’m going to let you know right off the bat – this could be a three-parter with all the info I have to offer about this event. It involves much more than the Celebration event in itself. So bear with me while I take you on my journey. I hope some of you will enjoy my tale of our shared experience and the rest of you will kick yourself for not taking my advice to attend this festival. Good thing for you – it will take place again next year – bigger and better than the last two I’m sure.

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I left Bonneau, SC, and headed north toward Seagrove about noon Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. That’s a short jaunt from Bonneau to Manning, SC, where I picked up I-95 and then at Florence, SC, I got off on Hwy. 52 which took me to Cheraw, SC, where I picked up Hwy. 1 to Rockingham, NC, and then Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) all the way up to Exit 45 to Seagrove. In a little more than 3 1/2 hours I was in the parking lot of the NC Pottery Center. I can’t wait until that new rest area is opened just before Exit 45 so I don’t have to stop at the one in Ellerbe. Sorry Ellerbe, I know you’re getting the short end of the stick with the new I-74, but you’re going to have to come up with something better than a rest area to attract people there.

I just made it in time to see the exhibit, Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, which will be on view through Jan. 30, 2010. There will be a separate posting on that exhibit. This is also where I was going to meet up with my friend Will Ravenel, who was coming from Greensboro, NC, to go with me to the Gala Preview event. Linda, my better half, had to work that weekend. Will had agreed to come as my official photographer, since I can’t talk to people and remember to take photos. Plus, he’s a better photographer than I am. Carolina Arts and I are very grateful for his expertise with cameras, computers, websites, blogging and just about anything else technical – and, he asks some pretty good questions as well. He has joined me on several trips to Seagrove and I think he really enjoys it as much as I do.

Will arrived about an hour before the Gala Preview opened so we headed to the Westmoore Family Restaurant – a great place to get some good food at a pretty good price. But, I’m sure a lot of folks traveling to Seagrove have already found that out. Remember, Seagrove is a town of about 250 people, so you wouldn’t expect a lot of places to dine. Asheboro, NC, is just 12 miles away, so you can find everything you might need for a trip to Seagrove there. We knew there was going to be food at the Gala, but we couldn’t think of anything else to do in the meantime. Everyone in Seagrove was getting ready for one pottery festival or another.

Once we finished our dinner we headed back up Hwy. 705, the Pottery Highway, toward Seagrove to the historic Luck’s Cannery where the Celebration of Seagrove Potters was taking place. The closer we got to the turnoff the more cars joined in the line headed to the same place. The Police Officers directing traffic in and out of the Cannery did a great job of moving traffic and the parking attendants found us a place to park very quickly. Both groups did a great job all weekend long moving the horde of people in and out. I’ve waited longer to cross the street in downtown Charleston, SC.

Now it might seem like a lot of stuff – before we step foot through the door to the event I’m blogging about, but it’s all part of the experience – something I think everyone should know. It would be like blogging about an art walk in downtown Charleston, SC, and not mentioning the fact that it may have taken 20-30 minutes to drive around before you found a parking spot and that you were three blocks away from where you would like to be – and that’s someone who knows the city well. It’s all part of the experience. I hate it when people act like they just magically appeared at some event – no hassle at all. What’s not worth doing even it involves a few hassles?

OK, so we’re in the door – we have our tickets (no tickets are sold at the door so you have to buy them in advance – remember that) and right off there are copies of Carolina Arts on the check-in desk. My night was made already. We were one of the media sponsors of this event, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to be treated in a manner you always hope for – I left the event filled with the glow that our sponsorship was not only appreciated but celebrated. That’s never a bad thing. And, in almost 100 percent of those situations, we are happy to renew our sponsorship – year after year.

So, to answer the questions on everyone’s minds who read my two previous entries about this festival: there was no sign of the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world or any hired goons making my visit an unpleasant experience. But I did turn my head every time I heard the word Tom shouted a little louder than normal – as if someone was giving me a warning. And, no pottery was sacrificed in any scrambles of people trying to get away from me.

We filled out our ticket stubs for the raffle items and then moved on past the line for food (which looked great), but we had just finished dinner, but we found a dessert table – with lots of desserts. We visited that table several times that evening. We then checked out the items to be auctioned that evening – the collaborative pieces – most done by two different Seagrove potters – a few face jugs done by three different potters and a few done by husband and wife potter teams. Just looking at some of the works and seeing the names associated with them – I knew the bidding would be way over a lot of peoples’ heads – especially mine, plus I was out of the pottery purchasing game altogether this trip. My little joke of the night was that – I’d love to buy something, but I have a struggling arts newspaper instead. Ha Ha. That was the only miserable part of this trip. It was killing me.

We headed into the part of the building where the pottery booths were. Apparently that was a new feature this year. Last year the festival was held in one big space and this year there was a divided wall up separating the entry room where the auction would take place and the entertainment, food, drink, and information tables were set up. This new wall was important in that the band playing in one room didn’t add to the noise of the crowd around the pottery booths so you could talk and the people wanting to hear the music didn’t have to deal with crowd noise. Plus while the auction was taking place people could and were still shopping.

We made a quick tour around the big room divided into three pathways – stopping to talk (when we could – the place was packed) with potters from places we visited during the spring kiln openings earlier this year and fellow bloggers I now think of as friends – Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery (Samantha’s father – Ed Henneke was there too) and Meredith and Mark Heywood of Whynot Pottery. Some folks we never did get to talk to that night even after several passes – they were tied up with customers. To me sales always come first – whether I’m on the phone with someone or in their gallery or studio – if customers come in – everything is on hold until business is concluded. Business is business.

Blogger’s Note: My apologies to Meredith and Mark Heywood – I keep trying to make them Haywoods.

So, in-between trying to say hi to some folks we roamed around to wherever our eyes took us. At one point we were at David Stuempfle’s booth of Stuempfle Pottery admiring his very big pots and we met Nancy Gottovi who turned out to be the executive director of STARworks NC, located just off Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) in Star, NC. She answered some questions we had about Stuempfle’s work and wood-fired salt glazes and then we talked about STARworks and Central Park NC – but for now you’ll have to check the links and wait for a separate entry on that facility.

At Whynot Pottery’s booth we got an explanation of crystalline glazes and how that works. We were really fascinated by that glaze technique. And I asked about something I thought of on the ride up to Seagrove. I wondered what kind of objects children made in art class in a community like Seagrove – home to over 100 potteries. I had bet myself that the pottery sessions were better than the ones I had in school back in Michigan. Some of the children’s parents would be some of the area’s potters. These are kids who have been hanging around potteries most of their lives – of course they made more interesting objects out of clay than the rest of us and with programs organized by the NC Pottery Center and taught by area potters – why wouldn’t they be better? Of course many turned out like my creations did – we can’t all be gifted artists.

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Here I am (before Thanksgiving, if you can believe it,) talking with Meredith Heywood trying to remember what my first creations in clay looked like.

At the booth for Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery (Fred Johnston and Carol Gentithes) I picked up a flyer for the second Cousins In Clay event which will take place in Seagrove on June 5 & 6, 2010. This expanded version will include the Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery as well as Bulldog Pottery.Michael Kline will be returning to Bulldog Pottery with Val Cushing and Allison McGowen will be a guest at Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery. Put that on your calendars.

While we were looking around Will was beginning to think that Saturday – the first day of the Celebration of Seagrove Potters festival – he might have to do some early Christmas shopping. He was seeing lots of possibilities. Lucky stiff.

Just before 8pm we headed back into the first room to find a good spot to observe the auction. I thought – this is going to be interesting and I wasn’t let down.

As I said in one of my earlier entries about the festival – these items were one-of-a- kind works. You can’t get a piece where two different potters from different potteries worked on a special creation together – so there were some people there ready to spend some money to call those works theirs. And, some of the teams were made up of very high profile potters. The bottom line is that the Friday night auction took in $10,000 which would be used for programs in the Seagrove community and promotion of the event.

I can’t give you details of the entire auction – this would go on forever – just like some of the bidding did – back and forth between two competing bidders and just when you thought the bidding was over a third bidder would throw their hand up – starting the bidding back and forth again.

Here’s a few of the highlights. A vase by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke (Bulldog Pottery) went for $600. A turtle created by Blaine Avery (Avery Pottery & Tileworks) and Carol Gentithes (Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery) went for $550. Two small vases created by Donna Craven (Donna Craven Pottery) and Samantha Henneke (Bulldog Pottery) demanded a high bid of $725. A very small melon vase by Ben Owen III (Ben Owen Pottery) and Will McCanless (McCanless Pottery) went for $400. But the big winner of the auction was a work by Ben Owen III (Ben Owen Pottery) and Fred Johnston (Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery) that took in $1650 before the bidding was over. All of these potters make pots that sell for more than these works took in, but it was really great of them to donate special works for this auction.

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Here is Ben Owen III holding up a work at the auction he and Will McCanless created.

This event was very exciting to watch – some people got some real bargains and others paid perhaps beyond what I’m sure they wanted to, but they walked away with some items – all us spectators wished we were going home with. I know I was drooling over most of the works offered.

By the way, the idea of making collaborative works to auction off was the idea of Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery. He wanted the Celebration to offer something special – something different from other pottery festivals. Perhaps this idea stemming from the positive energy he puts in his creations – soul pots, peace pots – with feelings of love and kindness. I’m not making fun – we all can use a lot more peace, love and kindness in today’s world.

I later learned on Saturday that the Gala Preview may have attracted a few hundred more people than the first year’s event and I’m sure more will be there next year as the word gets out. But for the record – final figures on attendance and money raised will come later – the figures offered here are just what I’ve heard so far, nothing concrete. I’m watching out for the cow pies. (A reference to earlier blog entries.)

Will and I had a good time – learned a lot about pottery and had some good conservations about all kinds of things. When we got back to Greensboro we watched a DVD of the new Star Trek movie – which was also very good – Saturday at the Celebration would be another day and another entry.

Bloggers Note: Of course the minute the Celebration of Seagrove Potters and the Seagrove Pottery Festival ended Sunday afternoon – these potters could take a long deserved rest – wrong! Many are scrambling to get ready for other shows, like the 40th Annual Carolina Designer Craftsmen’s Fine Craft + Design Show at the Exhibition Center at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 27 – 29, 2009, or kiln opening at their own potteries coming in December. This is a busy and critical time for these folks, so if you didn’t make it to either of these festivals – they sure would like you to come to Seagrove to do some holiday shopping. A handmade gift of pottery is better than anything you can find waiting in line in the dark early Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

2nd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters Takes Place Nov. 20 – 22, 2009, in Seagrove, NC – #3.1

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The .1 represents my Cow Pie entry, but this will be the last entry about the Celebration of Seagrove Potters 2009 festival – before it takes place. Of course we will have a follow-up as to how it went. And, like entry #2, instead of going over the details again I’m just going to offer this link to a previous entry I made giving a lot of details and a link to the Celebration of Seagrove Potters website where you can find out more than you ever wanted to about the festival.

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What I have to offer this time is photos of works that will be offered by auction at the Friday night Gala Preview on Nov. 20, 2009, at the Historic Luck’s Cannery in Seagrove. I’m sure tickets are still available on the festival’s website (www.CelebrationOfSeagrovePotters.com). They are just $35 – but must be purchased in advance. So don’t dither as Dick Cheney says. But, then again – don’t take his advice – look what happened to others that did. Take my advice – get your ticket now, if you haven’t already.

Many of these works are a two for one – one pottery creation – created in collaboration by two matched Seagrove potters. You can’t buy pottery like that everyday. And, you can’t buy them if you don’t go to the Gala Preview. And, (there is always another “and” isn’t there?) you can’t buy these works unless you’re the highest bidder. So we’ll see who the real “top” pottery collectors are Friday night.

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Now, Friday is not just for the high-rolling auction bidders, a ticket to the Gala Preview also gives you access to the potter’s booths – first chance to buy before the festival opens Saturday. And, like most galas – there will be beverages, food and live music and lots of rubbing of elbows with Seagrove potters, major pottery collectors and high muckety mucks of the pottery world. Don’t tell the Bobbsey Twins that I might be there – (You know who they are – one’s from Sanford, NC, and one’s from wherever the first one tells him he’s from – see Cow Pie entry for a clue.) There may even be a hord of media types searching for signs of a feud. But I don’t think they’ll find any – except in the minds of the Bobbsey Twins. All the excitement Friday evening will come from who wins high bids on the unique collaborative pieces. Besides, the Bobbsey Twins have their own pottery festival to organize.

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Of course if you can’t come Friday night – Saturday or Sunday will do just fine. The kilns of Seagrove have been burning away – right up to the last minute to provide as many visitors with the opportunity to go home with a work made by a Seagrove potter. And, that’s what you get at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters – the opportunity and guarantee that what you buy will come from a Seagrove potter.

Enough said – go – buy – enjoy.

One last favor to ask. If you are there and you see me (that is for those few who know what I look like) – don’t go shouting out my name or say – there’s Tom Starland from Carolina Arts. I don’t want to be responsible for a lot of broken pots when people scatter to get out of the way or line of fire. Just give me a wink.

After the Cow Pie – Straight Talk About Seagrove Pottery Festivals

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Well, it didn’t take long after my recent posting about the upcoming Celebration of Seagrove Potters festival which will take place Nov. 20 – 22, 2009, in Seagrove, NC, when I started to get e-mails from a couple of my regular non-fans about the big mistake I had made – counting potters as potteries.

In my irrational exuberance (thank you Allen Greenspan) to be a good media sponsor for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters and in trying to be too cute in making a comparison between the two festivals offered in Seagrove on the same weekend, I made the mistake of using the word “potteries” where I should have used the word “potters”. It’s a big difference.

When I made the statement – “I know there are about 100 potteries in the greater Seagrove area and 85 of them will be at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.” I was wrong. The number 85 represents individual potters not potteries. There will be almost 60 potteries represented at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters – leaving about 40 from the Seagrove area that could be at the other festival – still less than the Celebration and almost just as many (up to 35) from somewhere else other than Seagrove attending the other festival.

So it was pointed out to me that I was full of what you can find inside a cow pie and that I was, again, being unfair to the other festival.

Well, I pointed out to my non-fans that I did mention the other festival, made a link to their website and suggested to readers that if they didn’t find what they needed at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters – they should go to the other festival – it will be right there in Seagrove. That’s more fair and balanced than FOX News. It would be kind of hard to miss the other festival in such a small community, but, that’s what you get when trying to be a good supporter to one festival and fair to the other.

I have always said to these folks who are not happy with my support of the NC Pottery Center and Seagrove potters that what I’m trying to do is get people to go to Seagrove. What they do when they get there and which potteries they go to – much less what festivals they go to – I don’t really care. It’s a free country and I think visitors will just see potteries in Seagrove and won’t be checking any guides telling which potteries are on what side of the pottery feud going on in Seagrove. (And, for the record – there is no real feud going on in Seagrove.) So every time I’m promoting Seagrove potters – I’m doing work for all Seagrove potters – except for a few.

What really has had a burr up my rear is the real problem in Seagrove and that’s the actions of a few of the organizers of the other festival – the Seagrove Pottery Festival. Don Hudson, a potter from Sanford, NC, and his side kick, Phil Morgan, a potter from Seagrove have been running their own “Tea Party” in NC – attacking potteries and potters who do not line up under their leadership, attacking the NC Pottery Center and even attacking the NC Department of Cultural Resources – for their support of the Pottery Center and Seagrove in general.

I have nothing against the other potteries and potters who participate in the Seagrove Pottery Festival – they’re just trying to make a living like the rest of us, but I cannot support a festival under the control of Hudson and Morgan – a two man wrecking crew.

So I stepped in a cow pie by making my mistake, but my grandparents ran a dairy farm back in Michigan and I’ve stepped in many a cow pie and even learned that they can be useful as a sort of frisby – good for tossing at your older brother. So I’m tossing the cow pie I stepped in back at Don Hudson and Phil Morgan and asking – What’s the deal – have you two always been jerks?

I have an idea as to what Hudson is up to. He’d like to see the reputation of Seagrove pottery dragged through the mud in favor of Sanford, NC – which presents its own pottery festival. What Morgan is up to – I’m not sure he knows, but he must like being a yes man to Hudson.

I’m going to make the corrections to my recent posting – still showing my mistakes. I’m a big boy and I can live with my mistakes, but I’ll correct them when I’m shown I was wrong – but I don’t know how Hudson and Morgan live with what damage they have caused in the last two years.

If they are ever successful in bringing down the NC Pottery Center I will do my best to make sure the art community and community in general – forever knows what these two guys did. But, I don’t think they will be successful in their quest and until that day comes – if it ever does – I’ll not mention them again or anything they are associated with. It’s what they deserve.

So in closing – make sure you go to the Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC, held from Nov. 20 – 22, 2009. You’ll see lots of potters from Seagrove there – 85 of them.

Planning Underway for 2nd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters Which Takes Place Nov. 20 – 22, 2009, in Seagrove, NC

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Planning for the 2nd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters is underway and the participating artists are all busily working on special pieces for the Celebration, as well as on collaborative pieces to be auctioned on Friday night, Nov. 20, 2009. Last year’s event, the inaugural Celebration was a resounding success drawing over 400 people to the Friday night Gala and 5000 from NC and many surrounding states to the two day sales event. The event generated a total measurable financial impact of $452,967, including $3,400 to the Potters Relief Fund, $1,250 to local school art departments, $600 to the Seagrove Library and $51,917 of expenditures to local businesses, details are available at (http://celebrationofseagrovepotters.blogspot.com).

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The Celebration is unique in that it is a showcase of the artists of Seagrove, an area that covers the three county corner region of Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties. Over 85 of the Seagrove potters that earn their living making pottery in the local Seagrove community will be participating in the annual event. Seagrove pottery has long been known for it collectability and the Seagrove name is recognized worldwide.

The town of Seagrove is at the intersection of NC Business Highway 220 and NC Highway 705, which in 2002 was designated as Pottery Highway because it runs through the heart of pottery country. Seagrove potters are located throughout the countryside, all around these two major roads, and are all easily accessible from them. The shops are diverse and interesting, and all worthy of a visit and most will be open throughout the Celebration weekend. The Celebration of Seagrove Potters will again be held indoors at the historic Luck’s Cannery, on NC 705, Pottery Highway, located a half mile south of the traffic light in Seagrove. The Celebration potters admire and plan to continue the spirit of the original Luck’s Cannery-people of the Seagrove area working together to provide a future for their community.

The Celebration of Seagrove Potters will open on Friday evening, Nov. 20, 2009, at 6pm with a Gala Preview Party. Meet the artists and enjoy the opening night festivities of this fabulous event as visitors have the first opportunity to browse and purchase from the thousands of pieces, sip a favorite beverage and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, while listening to the jazz band Lost Marbles. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to preview a select collection of unique collaborative pieces. This highly successful venture, teaming Seagrove artists, to produce highly collectible one-of-a-kind pieces was very popular last year. This artwork will be auctioned at 8pm on Friday evening. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. They may be purchased on-line at (www.CelebrationOfSeagrovePotters.com).

Saturday, Nov. 21 the show is open from 9am-6pm and from 10am-4pm on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. A second fundraising auction will be held at 4pm, Saturday. Food and beverage vendors will be set up including 3 Kings Barbeque, Blue Diner Grille, and Pacific Rim Noodle House among others. A special Kids area (only kids allowed in to buy Seagrove pottery at kids prices!) will raise funds to be donated to the Seagrove and Westmoore schools art departments, demonstrations and educational opportunities will be available, and more.

The following Seagrove potteries and artists will be participating: Avery Pottery & Tileworks, Ben Owen Pottery, Bluestone Pottery, Bulldog Pottery, Cagle Road Pottery, Caldwell-Hohl Artworks, Chad Brown Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Country Pots, Cross Creek Pottery, Crystal King Pottery, David Stuempfle Pottery, Dean & Martin Pottery, Dirtworks, Dixieland Pottery, Donna Craven, Pottery, Dover Pottery, Fireshadow Pottery, From the Ground Up, Gingerbread House Pottery, Great White Oak Gallery, Hatfield Pottery, Humble Mill Pottery, Jake’s Pottery, JLK Jewelry at Jugtown, Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery, Jugtown Pottery, King’s Pottery, Kovack Pottery, Lantern Hill Pottery, Latham’s Pottery, Living Water Pottery, Luck’s Ware, McCanless Pottery, McKay Pottery, Nichols Pottery, Old Gap Pottery, Ole Fish House Pottery, “Original” Owens Pottery, Pat Newby, Pebbles Pottery, Potts Pottery, Ray Pottery, Riggs Pottery, Rockhouse Pottery, Seagrove Stoneware, Studio Touya, The English Potter, Thomas Pottery,  Tom Gray Pottery, Tripple C Pottery, Turn & Burn, Uwharrie Crystalline, Whynot Pottery, Windsong Pottery, and Zehmer Pottery. (Further info about most of these potteries can be found at Carolina Arts Online in our NC Commercail Gallery listings under Seagrove.)

The Celebration of Seagrove Potters festival has received strong support from potters and the community at large. Special thanks to our 2009 Sponsors: Amicks Superstore, Asheboro Elastics, Autocraft, Community One, Embarq Corporation, First Bank, Insurance Associates of the Triad,  Life 103.1, NC Zoological Society, Progress Energy, Pugh Funeral Home, Randloph Arts Guild, Randolph County TDA, Our State magazine, Carolina Arts, Richard and Susan Garkalns, Upton Accounting  and Village Printing with more coming on board each week.

Visit (www.CelebrationOfSeagrovePotters.com) to learn more about the festival and potters and find links to the individual pottery pages.

I’m Going to Seagrove, NC, for Some Kiln Openings

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

On the 18th and 19th of April, 2009, Seagrove potters are planning kiln openings and special events in their shops for the Celebration of Spring in Seagrove. Many of these same Seagrove potters who participated in an April 4th kiln firing at the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove will be donating one of their pieces to the Center’s fund raising auction taking place on Apr. 18. The event titled, Many Faces for the Center, is the 10th annual Benefit Auction, and is a crucial event for the Pottery Center with proceeds from the auction helping to keep this very important museum and educational center open and operating. A Silent Auction will be held from 2:30-4pm. A Live Auction starts at 5pm, all the events are free and open to the public.

From what I understand from reading some of the Seagrove potter blogs, many of the works to be offered during the auctions are already on display at the NC Pottery Center and you can see a list of auction items on the Center’s website at (www.ncpotterycenter.com). Many items are from beyond the Seagrove area from some of the best potters in the region.

I’m looking forward to experiencing some of the magic and talent that makes Seagrove such a treasure in the Carolina art community and matching some faces with some blogs. The trip will get me in the mood for Artista Vista in Columbia, SC, on April 23, 2009, but that’s another blog entry altogether.

For further information about this event you can visit he Celebration of Seagrove Potters website at (www.celebrationofseagrovepotters.com) or the Seagrove Area Potters Association website at (www.discoverseagrove.com).