Posts Tagged ‘Jugtown Pottery’

A Trip to Seagrove, NC, to a Fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center – The Potter’s Palette – Feb. 4, 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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As is usually the case – many planets have to come into alignment for Linda and I to be able to go somewhere together. I hate it when I have to go somewhere without her and she hates it even more than I do, but it just so happened that the Feb. 2012 issue of Carolina Arts was launched – e-mail notices were sent out and she was off from her other job on Saturday, Feb. 4. So we made plans to head to Seagrove, NC, to visit a few potters and then attend The Potter’s Palette, a unique fundraising art auction where potters from throughout NC were asked to make a painting to be auctioned off in support of the NC Pottery Center.

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OK, two points have to be addressed before we can continue. One, I have grown to dislike art auctions, like many artists who are asked on a regular basis to contribute artworks to them. There are way too many of them and some are just a facade for some folks to throw a party for themselves and take home some cheap art. Also the “art auction” seems to be only a burden of the visual art community – what about the performing and literary arts? But, I do support art auctions that make sense for the artists to support. NC potters supporting the NC Pottery Center is a given.

Point two – what another fundraiser? Yes, fundraisers are the name of the game these days. Government funding of the arts is almost non-existent and has been shrinking over the last decade. Believe me, these folks would love not to do it, but it’s a fact of survival.

What I loved about The Potter’s Palette fundraiser was that it wasn’t potters giving more pots to be auctioned off – reducing the market value of their pots in the name of a good cause. This was asking them to work out of the box creating art that doesn’t compete with their pottery – appealing to pottery collectors – offering them a chance to bid on something rare and unusual – a real one-of-a-kind item. This concept is similar to the collaborative pots auctioned off during the Celebration of Seagrove Potter’s festival. How often can you bid on a pot made by two different potters – who are not married to each other?

The trip to Seagrove from Bonneau, SC, the headquarters of Carolina Artsis about a 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive – some on rural roads, but mostly on Interstate highways (I-95 and the future I-73 & I 74), with Florence, SC, acting as a rest stop. We left early to drop in on a few potteries that I have not been to since I stopped delivering the paper – over a year now. I was in Seagrove in November of 2011 for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, but had no time to visit individual potteries. Besides, most were at pottery festivals that weekend.

We got to the rest area just outside of Seagrove about 12:30pm. We had lunch and headed to Bulldog Pottery to pay a visit to Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson, as well as Max the wonder bulldog and Ed and Gloria Henneke. But we had to settle for two out of five. Max was walled off from us. The excuse was that Max had pottery studio dust feet, which Max being Max would end up all over us (a big bummer) and they claimed Ed and Gloria were down in Florida, but I think Ed was still mad at me over the fact that Michigan had beaten Virginia Tech in a bowl game. Some people take a football loss like that hard. Just kidding Ed – it’s a good thing Michigan had paid off the refs ahead of time – right.

We got a tour of their new studio space. Well it was not so new to them, but new to us. Again, I’m amazed at all the stuff and equipment that goes into making pottery. If the public only knew what I have seen – behind the scenes of making art – they wouldn’t complain about the price of art much. At least you would think that. Most think it just involves a potter’s wheel and some clay.

We also got to talk some more about social media. Which is when my head started hurting and I noticed that there were two pots still spinning on wheels and the light bulb when off – they’re in the middle of working.

We next headed to Whynot Pottery to visit with Meredith and Mark Heywood to see what they were up to since we last saw them. Yes, I follow the blog and Facebook entries of these folks, but you can’t get the whole picture from those postings. Besides I still like the old school social media where you talk with people – face to face.

My mistake at Whynot Pottery was when we went inside their home, I sat or melted into their couch. If we didn’t have the event at the Pottery Center to go to and Linda wasn’t on call Sunday for her 911 job – I might have ended up watching the Super Bowl from that couch. Talk about visitors who never leave – it could have been me.

You ever notice that when couples get together that eventually the guys will be talking on one subject and the gals on another and sometimes the two paths of conversation will cross – and make sense? We had a few of those, but mostly we talked about a project they are working on with a designer from Charlotte, NC, who is working with a bigger designer in California.

At this point no one knows where this project will lead, but it really sounds interesting in that these designers are going to be pitching American Made up against Made in China and hopefully American consumers are ready to buy into the concept of the value of American craft over China’s price. We hope to have more about this project later.

Once I looked at the time, I think it took me about 20 minutes to transition slowly to a point where I could move off of that couch. My body didn’t want to go.

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We got to the NC Pottery Center in downtown Seagrove just a little after the event started and the parking lot was packed. And, so was the Center. Very soon we were standing in a line which eventually led to the food, which was being provided by Jennie Lorette Keatts, of JLK Jewelry at Jugtown, who we later learned was a caterer in a previous life. And what a spread it was – steamed shrimp, smoked salmon pate, tuna pate, sundried tomato tapenade, Rosemary white bean spread, Asian marinated meatballs, miniature quiches, stuffed baby red potatoes, cheeses, fruit, veggies, desserts, and more. You won’t see any photos of the food, as there was never a time that there wasn’t a crowd of people around those tables, except during the live auction, and I found it impossible to fill my plate and take pictures. But I know my priorities.

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Michael Mahan (r) and Phil Winn (l)

Wonderful Irish music was being provided by Michael Mahan, of From the Ground Up Pottery, and Phil Winn from Greensboro, NC. It doesn’t seem fair that these artists have so many talents. They should have left some for the rest of us.

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NC Potter Center Board Member Michael Kline serving up drinks

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A last minute inspection of works to be auctioned

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More inspections

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Potter Fred Johnston of Johnston and Gentithes Art Pottery giving folks a closer look at a work

Soon the live auction was starting, but it took the crowd a little time to settle down. There was a lot of excitement in the air and so many people to talk to. Bidding started a little slowly, but before you knew it – it was moving along fast and the bidding was getting heated on some of the items. One painting by Vernon Owens of Jugtown Pottery went for $1700. The high bidder was somewhere on the other end of a cell phone manned by Travis Owens. The crowd erupted when the auctioneer called out – “Sold for $1700!” I later learned that Alex Matisse’s painting came in second and brought a final bid of $1650.

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Travis Owens making a bid for the mystery person on the phone

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Mark Hewitt describing a painting

One of the highlights of the auction was the commentary by Mark Hewitt of Pittsboro, NC, potter and board member of the NC Pottery Center, about each of the paintings being offered. His comments got interesting, especially when it came to a work by himself or of a good friend. At times it sounded as if he was auditioning for a job at Sotheby’s or to be an Art History professor.

There wasn’t any painting that didn’t attract a bid – thank you bidding audience, and at least 50 percent of the paintings went for over $100 and some climbed to $400, $500, $600, and higher as several bidders fought to become the owner. A few bargains were had for what I would call a steal, but the bidding was well spread throughout the crowd. Some of the potters who had contributed a painting were also bidding on other potter’s paintings. The spirit of a true fundraiser was in this crowd.

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People checking their bid sheets to see which painting is up next

Before the evening was over, what I would call halfway over by looking at the bid list, Linda and I had to head back to Bonneau. Linda was on call on Sunday, and although she didn’t get called in and was able to participate in the first ever Carolina Arts All Day Super Bowl Celebration, we didn’t want to take the chance of getting home around 1 or 2am and she getting that dreaded call to come in to work at 7am.

The Pottery Center has not issued a final total raised during the event, but it might come in over $15,000. An official press release will come later, but I’d say it was a very successful venture, one that I’m sure we’ll see again and will no doubt be better than this first one. That’s the way they roll in Seagrove.

You can see other photos from the event (better than mine) at the Pottery Center’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina-Pottery-Center-Seagrove-NC/102520396006). While you’re there you might want to “Like” it to keep up with future events. Their annual potter auction will be coming up soon.

You can read more details about this event at an earlier post I made on Jan. 31, 2012, at this link (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2012/01/31/north-carolina-pottery-center-in-seagrove-nc-offers-the-potters-palette-something-different-feb-4-2012/).

To learn more about the NC Pottery Center, check our their website at (www.NCPotteryCenter.org).

NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, Educates Area Teachers About NC Pottery History

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

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For three days in late June, 2011, a group of 25 local teachers took a break from their summer vacation to participate in a special workshop hosted by the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, North Carolina, and funded by an educational grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Goodnight Educational Fund. The purpose of this special workshop was to introduce these teachers to the history of pottery making in North Carolina, from the earliest American Indian potters to contemporary potters of today, highlighting old traditions and new traditions. The teachers were selected by random, five from each of the surrounding counties of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery and Randolph. Each teacher received a packet of publications, posters, and educational materials to share with their students next fall.

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Teachers get an orientation at the NCPC on the first day of the workshop from Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton

Day one of the workshop featured guest lectures by Dr. Charles Zug, noted folklorist and North Carolina pottery expert who provided a history of pottery making overview, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, archaeologist and ceramic scholar who taught them how to identify different ceramics and glazes, plus demonstrations by Caroleen Sanders, Catawba Indian potter who spoke about her heritage and training, and finally Chris Espenshade, an archaeologist who demonstrated hand-building techniques for the teacher’s hands-on experience.

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Catawba potter, Caroleen Sanders gives teachers an overview of  her pottery tradition.

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Teachers in the NCPC Education Building learning how to make coiled pottery from Chris Espenshade.

The second and third days involved field trips to various regional pottery shops to showcase different pottery styles, kilns, glazes, and vessels. The group visited Westmoore Pottery (Mary Farrell) to learn about North Carolina’s early redware industry and use of a chamber kiln. They then moved on to Jugtown Pottery to learn about groundhog kilns, salt-glazed stonewares and the “revitalization” of the craft which took place in the 1920s from generational potters, Vernon and Pam Owens. The afternoon was filled with a visit to Ben Owen Pottery to see new art forms and changes in this family’s wares over the past three generations, plus two functioning groundhog kilns. Last on the second day was a trip to the King’s Pottery to meet Terry, Anna and Crystal King, a family of local potters known for their whimsical face jugs and sculptural figurines of animals.

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Mary Farrrell of Westmoore Pottery greets the teachers in front of her shop before showing them her decorative techniques.

The third day the teachers’ group traveled to Pittsboro, NC, to meet potter Mark Hewitt and learn more about the apprenticeship system of craft-transfer, along with his own version of traditional pottery, use of a catenary arch kiln and other decorative elements revised from North Carolina’s 19th century traditions. The group concluded the field trip day with a visit to Seagrove pottery family, the McCanlesses, where Millie (Dover Pottery), Eck (Eck McCanless Pottery) and Zeke demonstrated elaborate decorative techniques on porcelain-type ceramics.

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Pittsboro, NC, potter, Mark Hewitt talks about his craft and appreciation of North Carolina pottery.

At the end of the workshop, the teachers received their diplomas and stood patiently for a final group photograph.  Overall comments from teachers were very rewarding and positive, “this is the best workshop I’ve attended in my 17 years of teaching”, “loved the literature and the presentations”, “learning firsthand history from NC potters”, “now I have more knowledge to spread with kids and families in the area”,  and “NCPC + Hospitality = Wonderful!”

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Group of 25 Teachers from Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties who participated in the NCPC’s 3-day Teachers Workshop on Pottery making in North Carolina.

The workshop organizers, Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Mrs. Cindy Edwards, and Mrs. Ann Busick, along with the NCPC staff, hope to do another teachers workshop in the future, offering access to potters, history overview and hands-on demonstrations to teachers from throughout the state an opportunity to transmit this learning to their students….helping to preserve and promote the significance of pottery in North Carolina’s heritage.

Upcoming Fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center

The North Carolina Pottery Center, in Seagrove, partnering with Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd (LLAES), is pleased to announce, the12th annual Going, Going, Gone to Pots fundraising auction on Aug. 11, 2011. This auction, the Center’s main fund raising event of the year, will feature an outstanding selection of contemporary and vintage North Carolina pottery donated by top NC potters and collectors, as well as other exciting participatory and pottery related items. The lots are available for viewing now at (www.ncpotterycenter.com) and (www.llauctions.com).

NC Pottery Center’s Upcoming Exhibitions

The North Carolina Pottery Center will present two new exhibits including:Wild Fire: Alamance County Stoneware – Past and Present and Remember Me as You Pass By… North Carolina Ceramic Grave Markers, both on view from Aug. 19 through Oct. 29, 2011. A reception will be held on Aug. 19, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of our membership, the Mary and Elliott Wood Foundation and the Goodnight Educational Foundation. This project was supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove. Hours of operation are Tue. – Sat., 10am – 4pm.

For more information, please call 336/873-8430 or visit (www.ncpotterycenter.org)

Find Your Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift on Busbee Road, Seagrove, NC – Feb. 11-12, 2011

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

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Valentine’s Day is about celebrating those you love. What better gift than something handmade by an artist. The Seagrove Potters of Historic Busbee Road are planning a weekend shopping experience designed to fit your Valentine’s Day shopping needs,  on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011.

Ten shops, including three museums, a jeweler, a blacksmith and a wide variety of other crafts, all in less than a three mile scenic drive, where pottery has been made continuously for over 100 years will offer their creative talents. There is something for everyone on your list in the shops starting on Busbee Road at Pottery Highway 705 and ending at Jugtown Road.

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Works by Travis Owens of Jugtown Pottery

Ben Owen Pottery will feature pieces in the Chinese Red for a special Valentine’s weekend beginning Feb. 11. For info call 910/464-2261 or visit (www.benowenpottery.com).

Chris Luther Pottery will feature large vases, bottles, teapots, and smaller functional wares in a variety of multi-layered colors.  Chris will also be demonstrating on Feb. 12, at the studio for visitors. For further info call 336/301-3254 or visit (www.chrislutherpottery.com).

Westmoore Pottery’s shop will be decorated for Valentine’s Day. On both days the Farrell’s will feature pottery with hearts and will serve Valentine’s Day refreshments. For further info call 910/464-3700 or visit (www.westmoorepottery.com).

Hickory Hill Pottery will serve light refreshments and feature their Mauve and Mauve and White glazes, and their handmade, large and small cake pans. For further info call 910/464-3166.

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Works by Jennie Lorette Keatts of JLK Jewelry

Mill Creek Forge, a blacksmith shop owned by Jerry Darnell, will have several items including hooks and hangers made up around the heart theme. For further info call 910/464-3888 or visit (www.millcreekforge.com).

O’Quinn Pottery will have light refreshments made by Sandra O’Quinn, and will feature heart shaped bowls along with a fresh kiln load of pottery. For further info call 910/464-5125.

Cady Clay Works will have a nice selection of pieces available.  For further info call 910/464-5661 or visit (www.cadyclayworks.com).

“Original” Owens Pottery will have their signature Owens red glaze, and a fresh supply of dinnerware. For further info call 910/464-3553 or visit (www.originalowenspottery.com).

Moore Pots Pottery will feature animals, including elephants, chickens, goats, and lions. You will find vases, jars, and faces jugs among the pieces from the latest firing. For further info call 910/464-1453.

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Work by Chris Luther of Chris Luther Pottery

Jugtown Pottery will have a new firing with Copper Red, Peach Bloom, and Lavender glazed pieces. The Owens will feature vases, tumblers, yunomis and teapots. There will be complimentary dark chocolate on both Friday and Saturday. For further info call 910/464-3266 or visit (www.jugtownware.com).

JLK Jewelry at Jugtown will feature new romantic jewelry with red stones and other new creations in a variety of colors. For further info call 910/464-2653 or visit (www.jlkjewelry.com).

Visit  (www.potteryofbusbeeroad.com) for direct  links to the individual pottery websites. You can pick up the brochure for the Busbee Road section of the Seagrove pottery area at the NC Pottery Center, all NC Welcome Centers and at any of the shops along Busbee Road.

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.

NC Potters to be Featured in a Nationwide TV Broadcast

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

After our elation over the University of Michigan football victory over the Irish (don’t even mention that Carolina Panthers’ game) and frustrations over messed up Beatles’ CDs – it’s back to the business of bringing you news about the visual art community in the Carolinas.

It seems that the pottery community in Seagrove, NC, including the North Carolina Pottery Center, is much more significant – statewide and nationwide – than a few individuals would like the NC Legislature to know. Cream will always rise to the top no matter how much you stir the pot. Of course if you stir it too much – you get butter. And, who doesn’t like butter? Butterrrr.

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On Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009, at 8 pm, PBS TV, will air a nationwide broadcast of a brand new episode of the Peabody award-winning series,Craft in America, that features two well-known North Carolina potteries.Craft in America producer, Carol Sauvion, explains why. “North Carolina pottery has inspired and influenced potters from all over the world,” says Sauvion, “It is authentic, original, and powerful in its simplicity. By including Jugtown and the Hewitt pottery in its new episodes, the Craft in America series showcases their significant contribution to the history of craft in America.”

Jugtown potters, Vernon and Pam Owens, and their children Travis and Bayle, and Mark Hewitt in Pittsboro, NC, are proud to represent the state’s pottery tradition in this stunning documentary that serves as a tremendous affirmation of North Carolina’s role in shaping the ceramic heritage of United States.

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Vernon and Pam Owens

Both Pam Owens and Mark Hewitt are on the board of the North Carolina Pottery Center (NCPC) in Seagrove, NC, and have helped organize a series of simultaneous “viewing parties” across the state on Oct. 7, 2009, to coincide with the broadcast, and to raise funds for programming at NCPC.

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Mark Hewitt

These “viewing parties”, described as, “a collective group hug for all the potters and pottery lovers across the state,” demonstrate a remarkable show of support from North Carolina pottery guilds and patrons across the state. This support acknowledges the camaraderie among North Carolina potters, and validates the role that the North Carolina Pottery Center plays in promoting public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina.

Eight pottery Guilds, from the coast to the mountains, are hosting “viewing parties” for their members and supporters, including the Coastal Carolina Clay Guild in Wilmington, NC, the North Carolina Pottery Collectors Guild and the Triangle Pottery Guild (both in Raleigh, NC), Durham Clayworks, Carolina Claymatters and Carolina Clay Connection in Charlotte, NC, and the Potters of the Roan in Bakersville, NC, and Penland, NC. There will also be a gathering at UNC-Asheville in Asheville, NC.

The Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary, NC, is partnering with NCPC, Craft in America, and UNC-TV, to host a Gala Dinner, Dessert and Viewing Party.

In addition, there are seven parties being held at the homes of NCPC patrons in cities across the state – in Edenton, Fayetteville, Seagrove, Asheboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Pittsboro.

Visit (www.ncpotterycenter.com) or phone 336/873-8430 for more information about attending one of these events. To contact Jugtown Pottery visit (www.jugtownware.com) or phone 910/464-3266, and to contact Mark Hewitt visit (www.hewittpottery.com) or phone 919/542-2371.

A Glorious Spring Day in Seagrove, NC

Monday, April 20th, 2009

It was April 18, 2009, and by 6am, Linda and I were in the car headed for Seagrove, NC, for the first day of the Celebration of Spring in Seagrovewhere over 40 potteries in the area would be greeting visitors who would be coming to see new works – many fresh from the potter’s kilns. Estimated arrival time was 10am where we would meet up with our friend and part time technical advisor, Will Ravenel, at the parking lot of the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove.

I felt it was only fair to get Will to join us from Greensboro, NC, since some folks think people in Greensboro would have a hard time finding their way to Seagrove to find great pottery. And, as I expected, he had no trouble and actually beat us there – just before 10am.

I’m having a little fun with the folks who thought they had to take Seagrove pottery to Greensboro for some reason. As I’ve said before, if you want to see Seagrove pottery – go to Seagrove.

At 6am, getting into the car it was cool and it stayed cool until the sun was up long enough to do its thing. By the time we arrived at the Pottery Center’s parking lot – we could tell it was going to be a wonderful spring day. And, it was.

Our first stop was at Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery. I knew we were in trouble right away. They had complimentary hand-crafted oatmeal cookies and outstanding pottery. I fell in love with Fred Johnston’s pots right off and we loved Carol Gentithes’ animal sculptures – especially the dog eating the tax return. “I’m sorry Uncle Sam – my dog ate my return.” The problem was – this was our first stop and I was already hot to buy.

We hadn’t really intended to buy on this trip. I just wanted to meet some of the blogging potters who I’ve been following since last year when I first learned that the NC Pottery Center was in financial trouble. A movement had formed to save the Center and bloggers had a big part in helping. The Center was saved and I’ve been learning a lot about potters and their processes – things I would have never known without those blogs. And, part of this event was another fundraiser for the Center. Many of these same Seagrove potters and others from around NC and the region had donated works for silent and live auctions taking place this same day entitled, Many Faces for the Center, held at the Pottery Center – our final destination for the day.

So here we were at our first stop and itching to spend money we really didn’t have to spend. We knew we were going to buy something this day – we always do. We love pottery. But we displayed strong self-control. And, besides – these potteries would not be going anywhere. Well, that was the plan anyway.

Next stop, Whynot Pottery, to meet Mark and Meredith Heywood. Meredith and I had become e-mail buddies during the Save the Pottery Center campaign. We arrived and walked into the gallery and Will sees a vase against the wall and the next thing we know he’s buying it. And, Linda discovers jewelry. All bets are off and the shopping begins. But we’re being conservative and selecting pieces with low price tags, but good pieces. It’s soon like the British on a visit to Willy Wonka’s. Well, not really, but it was amazing to see how self-control was soon out the window.

While there, Meredith gave us a tour of the studio which had burned last year. I’ve been watching the progress of the studio’s recovery through her blog. They have a great location there and we all agreed that if we lived there we wouldn’t get any work done at all.

We next found ourselves at Ben Owen Pottery where we got a look at Ben Owen III’s exceptional works. My eyes quickly scanned the gallery to see a red pot, but no glowing red pots. But they did have examples in the Museum part of the shop. The red is spectacular, but so is a lot of his work and before we left I was holding a small blue piece with small hints of red in it. Come Monday morning I might have to see if I could get some of our neighbors to pay me to rake leaves or cut grass. This was not how the day was supposed to go. Look, touch, enjoy, but don’t…

How stupid was it to make our next stop Jugtown Pottery? The pottery compound was an amazing sight as was the pottery inside and before you knew it we had acquired pieces, one by Vernon Owens and one by Pan Owens. Our heads were spinning, so we headed to the Westmoore Family Restaurant for lunch. It had been a long time since that Egg McMuffin in Manning, SC, at 7am. And I think my usually good self-control was being affected by my lack of food.

After lunch we drove to From The Ground Up Pottery to see Michael Mahan’s work, another blogger. We wanted to see the “soul pots” to get some of those good vibes of positive energies of love and kindness. It might be good for building up our self-control. As we drive up Linda and I see wind chimes – at least a kind of upside down clay bowl with a wooden ringer, both hung from ropes. They made a really nice sound.

The problem here was – I got talking with Michael Mahan and didn’t really get to look around too much and before I knew it – Linda and Will were giving me that look of – miles to go and time is running out. But I’m sure I only dodged the buying bullet – for now. After all – I’m in Seagrove once a month – very early, but nothing says I can’t wait around until potteries open.

Next stop, Dean and Martin Pottery. I know – some name right? Now, you have to think that with so many potteries in Seagrove that you are going to walk in one and not see anything that speaks to you, but it wasn’t happening at this pottery. Both Jeffrey Dean and Stephanie Martin had works that were speaking to both Linda and I. You know what happened – need I say more?

We did find one or two of those potteries where we did the quick walk through and out the door. I won’t mention them, as I’ve learned in my years in covering the arts – all art appeals to someone – all art does not have to appeal to me. I make no judgements. So in order to prevent someone from trying to figure out where we were, I’m skipping several stops and jumping to our final pottery stop. You have to watch every word you say – some people try to make the most out of nothing sometimes.

Samantha Henneke is another one of the Seagrove blogging potters. Her blog is on my daily check list. She and Bruce Gholson own Bulldog Pottery. As soon as we all enter their showroom – bingo we are going nuts again. Our eyes are just bouncing from one pot to the next and wall pieces that looked like batik. I point to a spot on one wall and tell Will – “I really like that one”. He doesn’t even see what I’m pointing at – I can’t get his full attention. Finally I break through and he sees I’m pointing to an issue of Carolina Arts on the wall.

Turns out both artists have been followers of the paper for some time – way back to 1997 when we first went into North Carolina. They used to pick it up at the Green Hill Center for NC Art in Greensboro. We don’t go to Greensboro anymore, which is too bad, but we never could find any regular support for the paper there and that kind of matches up with things – I mean if the people there can’t figure out that you go to Seagrove for Seagrove pottery – how could they ever figure out that in order to keep us in Greensboro – they would have to support us.

Anyway – we all got some very nice pottery at Bulldog Pottery, and when we went to put the bags in our car’s trunk – the trunk was full of bags. What had happened to our plan – where was the self-control?

Next stop – back to the NC Pottery Center for the auctions. It was 3pm and Linda and I were beginning to feel our day. As we walked in we were just in time for the end of the first silent auction – but nothing was silent here. The place was abuzz with chatter and excitement. Some folks were just about to become the winning bidders of donated pottery and round two was about to begin. We moved through the crowd as best we could to see what was being offered. The theme was, Many Faces for the Center, and it was interesting to see how the various artists had taken on that theme.

Will asked if I was going to be bidding. I reminded him of the trunk of the car and gave him one of those looks – like – haven’t I gotten in enough trouble already? Besides I’m more the kind of guy who likes the “Buy Now” option on eBay. I’ve learned what can sometimes happen in the heat of an auction – even silent auctions. I like the satisfaction of walking up to something and saying – you are mine now. During an auction if I like something and someone else outbids my wallet, which isn’t hard to do – I’ll just feel bad.

Wait a minute, I have to adjust that statement – it sounds a little too manly. What I should have said is – I like to fall for something and then ask Linda – may I have it?

Before long, the crowd is beginning to wear on us and we decide since we are not making bids – perhaps our day has come to an end. We say our good-byes, after we sort out the purchases in our car’s trunk and part to return home in different directions. Will pointed out that since Greensboro is less than an hour away (Did you hear that folks in Greensboro – you’re less than an hour away from Seagrove.) that he will have finished a nap before we get home. Thanks again for that thought, Will.

By 8pm we had arrived home – just another 14 hour adventure in the Carolina Arts history books. Although it was a long day – we had a great time.

Then began the unwrapping of the purchases made earlier that day – the rediscovery of what we had fallen for. In the bag from Bulldog Pottery we found a notice for a show, Cousins in Clay, scheduled for June 6 & 7, 2009, at Bulldog which would be featuring works by Bruce Gholson, Samantha Henneke, and Michael Kline – another blogging potter from Bakersville, NC, whom I’ve also been following through his blog. Here’s a case where Bakersville comes to Seagrove. You can find many of these blogs I mentioned in our links on the side of this page.

Some Points To Remember

First off, going to Seagrove is like going to an art walk in downtown Charleston, SC. There is no way you are going to see it all in one visit. Both places are steeped in history and tradition, but you will always discover something new every time you visit. So for those potteries who might feel left out – no worries mates – we’ll be back. Linda and I have been collecting pottery for almost 30 years – we’re not finished yet.

Secondly, on this day our purchases ranged from $5 to a high of $45. My want list ran as high as $450 and up, but they will have to wait for better days. So even in tough economic times – you can go and fill your eyes with wonder and not drain the family coffers – that is if you have better self-control than some. Will is coming our way in a few weeks and he was already planning a return trip to Seagrove with Mother’s Day in mind. There are going to be some lucky mothers on that day.

Thirdly, for the AARP generation, which you enter at age 50 even if you’re not a member – a visit to Seagrove’s potteries was easy to take. You can drive right up to most of the pottery shops, we took advantage of three – count them, three good rest rooms – one at the Pottery Center, several at the Westmoore Family Restaurant, and there is a rest area on Hwy. 705 – the pottery highway. That’s important. Also stop at the Pottery Center first – they have good maps on how to find the potteries.

Fourthly, even if all you do is look, Seagrove’s rolling hills and country roads are a wonderful backdrop to the potteries, which are interesting in themselves. And although Seagrove when looked at on a map seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere, it is centrally located near many of North Carolina’s populated areas – even Greensboro, and not that far from many places in South Carolina. If Linda hadn’t been on call for her 911 job on Sunday, we probably would have stayed with Will in Greensboro and gone back to more potteries on Sunday. They also have hotels in the area for those without friends in the area.

And my fifth point is, we have been involved with the Seagrove area and its potters since last July, but we know there are great potters located all over the Carolinas. In fact, our last pottery purchase was made almost a year and a half ago up in Asheville, NC, during one of the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Fairs. We purchased a piece of pottery from Courtney Erin Martin from Bakersville, NC. Before that we purchased works at one of the annual Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Crafts Fair in Charleston, SC – probably from a Carolina potter. Our collection is focused on works by Carolina artists. And, before that we’ve gotten works at Southern Pottery Workcenter & Gallery in Columbia, SC. Peter Lenzo does some outstanding work and also carries great works from other Carolina potters. In other words – we get around and we shop around.

But, if it seems like we have been focused on Seagrove – we have. They need the attention. They deserve the attention – at least the good kind. And, I hope you (the readers) are giving it to them through this blog.

The next big event in Seagrove will be the 2nd annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters, taking place on Nov. 20-22, 2009. Actually two pottery festivals will be taking place that weekend in Seagrove. I recommend you go see both, but you don’t have to wait for a big event to go visit potteries in Seagrove. In fact, I bet they would like it if you just went there any old time. Buy all the pottery you want – they’ll make more.