Posts Tagged ‘Mark Heywood’

Some Things You Never Plan On – Another Trip to Seagrove, NC

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

One of the many plans we had for the big Memorial Day weekend was to make a trip to Seagrove, NC, to attend the Cousins in Clay event at Bulldog Pottery and a spring kiln opening at Whynot Pottery – both taking place on Saturday, May 26, 2012.

For a couple of weeks before that Saturday, I was sharing posts made by Bulldog Pottery and Whynot Pottery on Facebook so that others would know about these two events taking place in Seagrove. I kept injecting into the conversation a question as to whether their would be cookies at Whynot Pottery’s kiln opening – as a joke. Cookies are a big part of an event Whynot has earlier in the Spring, but they were not advertised as a part of this kiln opening.

I like to banter back and forth with the folks in Seagrove about different subjects just to make our Facebook and blog postings a little more interesting. Sometimes it’s about cookies – sometimes it’s about Michigan vs. Virginia Tech football.

Linda and I went to the Cousins in Clay event first as it is the first location we come to once we arrive in the area, but I want to talk about what happened at Whynot first.

When we arrived at Whynot Pottery, Meredith and Mark Heywood came out to greet us as we got out of our car and Meredith invited us inside for a slice of cake, I thought I heard her say pineapple upside-down cake, I said sure, but insisted that we came to see fresh pottery – right out of the kiln. Within 2 seconds of entering their showroom/gallery I found a plate of cookies and had one in my mouth.

You see the joke there was – way back – sometime after we first met in person, pineapple upside-down cake made its way into a conversation and I told Meredith that was my mother’s specialty and one of my favorite foods – which I haven’t had in years. She told me if I gave her a heads up before I was coming to Seagrove she would make me one. Well, it was several years later now and I had never made the request. It always seemed like I was going there at the last minute and to an occasion where they would be too busy to be making cake for me. So when I heard it mentioned – I just took it as more banter about my begging for cookies.

After that first cookie I started taking some pictures, but soon realized she wasn’t kidding around. She had a fresh pineapple upside-down cake waiting.

You ever have an experience where lightening flashes in your brain and when the clap of thunder comes you forget everything before that time? I really planned to get some pictures of Whynot pottery and the surroundings for future blog postings, but when I got home and downloaded my camera – I had three images from Whynot – and they were not what they should have been. That was a darn shame, but the important thing to me was I got some pineapple upside-down cake and a flood of memories of my mother that afternoon.

Looking back, this was a real bummer. I totally blew my mission and let them down – as far as having more images to use, but I assured Meredith that I would pay them back ten fold in any way I could. These are the same folks who sent me fruitcake during the last Christmas holiday when I was jonesin’ for fruitcake. And, it was super-fruitcake – much better than I ever had (Southern Supreme from Bear Creek, NC – (www.southernsupreme.com). They didn’t do it because they knew they would get anything out of it – they’re just good folks.

And, when you buy art, you want to buy quality art, but don’t you also want to buy art from good people? That’s one of the reasons I keep going back to Seagrove. It’s not only about the great pottery being produced there it’s about the great people we’ve met there too. Seagrove doesn’t have a lock on that in the Carolinas, we know great people all over the Carolinas, but it is a special place.

The pineapple upside-down cake was really good too. A little different than the way my mother made it, but then what isn’t. Most of the time your mother’s food is the best or at least that’s the way you remember it. This was southern style and of course my family is from the mid-west.

I hate that most of this posting about Whynot is about cookies and cake, but I didn’t plan on either of these items getting in the way of our plans. But, as you’ll read a little further on down – food can be a distraction for me.

So while other people were coming and going at Whynot Pottery and buying pottery – we were off eating cake. I’d be ashamed, but it was so long since I had some and so good. Man can not live on art alone.

Believe me, they have some great pottery at Whynot, check their website and blog – then go there and buy some. I make no promise of cookies or cake, but you will meet some good folks.

You can check out the Whynot Pottery’s blog at (http://whynotpotteryblog.blogspot.com/) or visit (www.whynotpottery.com).

I’ll refer you back to a blog posting I made before going to Seagrove to show I’m not always distracted. Click this link (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2012/05/20/making-plans-for-a-big-weekend-next-weekend-may-25-27-2012/) to see what our plans were.

So, at the Cousins in Clay event at Bulldog Pottery it was a different set up this year in case of possible bad weather, but it was a beautiful day in Seagrove. The event was taking place in the breezeway between their industrial looking home and studio. I don’t have a picture, but you have to see it to know what I’m talking about.

On hand were pottery displays by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke, of Bulldog Pottery, joined by their mountain “clay cousin” Michael Kline of Bakersville, NC, and two special guest potters, Ron Meyers, an icon of American ceramics from Athens, GA, and Judith Duff, a full-time studio potter from Brevard, NC. We have pictures!

Several other area and regional potters were on hand and from pictures I saw later on Facebook and blogs – many Seagrove potters came to see the pottery and talk with the potters. Potters are great fans of other potters.


Works from Bulldog Pottery


A close up of some of the crystalline glaze on one of Bulldog’s pieces. (I hope I have that right) Anyway it’s pretty amazing.

Linda and I spent a lot of time “looking” at pottery before we got into any conversations. Like many of our visits to Seagrove of late, or anywhere else, we spent thousands of dollars with our eyes wishing we could have known we would win the lottery that evening so we would be taking lots of pottery home with us, but even though we had lottery tickets for that Saturday’s drawing – we were stuck in “looking” mode. And, as it turned out – neither of our tickets had one number selected that evening – which is usually the case when we buy a chance at wealth.


Works by Michael Kline


Works by Ron Meyers


Works by Judith Duff

To ease my pain I turned to conversation, something that springs freely from me and is always rewarding – when I let others speak. I also concentrated on taking photos. And over time, I’ve learned that there is some pleasure in looking at great works of art and there was plenty to see on this day.

At one point I was in deep conversation about the NC Pottery Center (www.ncpotterycenter.org) in Seagrove with Michael Kline and Ed Henneke, both on the Board of the Pottery Center when Linda appeared in the corner of my eye with a plate of amazing looking food.

It turned out that Chronis Pou Vasiliou’s wife, Mary Jane (Bruce Gholson’s sister) from Greensboro, NC, was providing a feast for the guests. Vasiliou was providing Greek music for the event. I guess it helps to have talented relatives close by, but then a lot of folks in Seagrove seem to also be gifted musicians and gifted with food too.


Chronis Pou Vasiliou

So are you getting a picture of our day? A nice drive to Seagrove (3 1/2 to 4 hours), great weather (not hot), great pottery, great conversation, great folks, and to top it off, great food and pineapple upside-down cake! After all, it was our anniversary and my birthday weekend.

By the way, we got gas for $3.15 a gallon in Cheraw, SC, within 20 miles of the NC border. Sorry NC, we need all the help we can get. It’s probably even lower now.

Some folks back in the Charleston, SC, area asked me earlier in the week and some later that weekend – “so let me get this straight, the Spoleto Festival begins on Friday in Charleston and you’re planning a day trip to Seagrove, NC?”. I said, “Yes and had a great time – always do. You should go there sometime and check it out”. And, many of them think it must be something special as it keeps drawing my attention from what they keep reading on this blog.

I told Meredith Heywood back at Whynot Pottery that sometime I might have to check into renting a bus from Charleston and making a magical mystery tour to Seagrove to get some people to come there.

And I’m telling you – you should go there. Seagrove is open for visitors and business – most of the time, but make plans. Your plans may turn out differently, but sometimes you’ll get rewards you didn’t plan on getting.

The next Cousins in Clay event takes place on Aug. 25 & 26, 2012. Michael Kline hosts potters Mark Shapiro, Sam Taylor, Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke, at Michael Kline’s Pottery (http://www.klinepottery.com/) in Bakersville, NC. For further info visit (www.cousinsinclay.com).

You can keep up with Bulldog Pottery at their blog, Around and About with Bulldog Pottery at (www.bulldogpottery.blogspot.com).

And, what about Mad Max the Wonder Dog? At some point I saw a flash of something dark and red out of the corner of my eye up on the skywalk between the two buildings at Bulldog Pottery, but no close encounters this time.

To learn more about Seagrove’s pottery community visit the Seagrove Area Potters Association’s website at (http://www.discoverseagrove.com/).

Share this article

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

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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.

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 Arts is 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.

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.


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.


NC Potter Center Board Member Michael Kline serving up drinks


A last minute inspection of works to be auctioned


More inspections


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.


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


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.


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).

Share this article

On the First Day of Winter My Christmas Fruitcake Arrived in the Mail – Oh the Joy!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

So, it’s 6:30am and I wake up. Linda has already gone to her 911 dispatch job and there’s no covers on me and it’s a little cool. It only got down in the 50′s overnight so it was a little warm for covers. It’s the first day of Winter, Dec. 21, 2011, and the Amazon weather gal on The Weather Channel – Stephanie Abrams says it’s going to be around 77 degrees in our area today and 80 tomorrow. That’s Winter?

This weather reminds me of my first year in Charleston or more exact, North Charleston, SC. It was 75 degrees on Christmas and on New Years day I went to Folly Beach and got a sunburn. I called my parents back in Michigan and it was 20 below with blowing snow. That was my first Winter in the South in 1974. The next year at the same time we had some of the coldest, damp weather I’ve experienced. That’s Winter in the South. It’s all relative. When you have months of 95 degrees + in the Summer, 30 degrees can seem very cold. And, it’s always the humidity that makes the difference.

So when I first went on Facebook to check things out, I posted a picture of an 8 inch snowfall we had a couple years back and asked Mama Nature – what’s up? Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving it, if not just for the fact that the heater isn’t running all day and I don’t need air conditioning.

About noon, it’s time to make the mail run and if there are some checks in the mail – a run into town to the bank. I also wanted to make a run to the trash site to take some garbage and some papers and plastic to recycle. When I opened our drawer at the local post office there’s one of those slips to let you know you have a package inside. My first thought is – what did Linda or our son Andrew order online now, and then I think it’s almost Christmas – who sent us something in the mail.

When I exchange the slip for a box with the Postmaster I see that it’s from Whynot Pottery in Seagrove, NC. My mind is racing between the notion that it’s a piece of potter or fruitcake that Meredith Heywood made. Either one would be great, but I’ve been jonesin’ for fruitcake lately.

I can’t explain why all of a sudden in the last two years that when Christmas time has come around I’ve had fruitcake on my mind. It had been almost 20 years since I’ve had real good fruitcake. For awhile everyone was making fun of fruitcake – so much so that people stopped giving them as gifts or if they still did – kept it on the down low. Too bad, a good fruitcake is heaven in your mouth and in your teeth for days.

The kind of fruitcakes I grew up on were heavy on the candied fruit and highlighted with a little booze. Linda’s mother made an 80 proof fruitcake that fermented for six months. There was a two slice limit on those cakes and no driving after three. We had a friend back in our photography days who’s wife made a killer fruitcake, but when the shipyard in North Charleston closed they moved away.

So with that box in hand I jumped in the car and drove home. Once I pulled into the yard I realized that I forgot to go to the trash site. So I put the box in the house and went back to finish my duties. When I finally got home I went straight to the box and opened it and there was a little pottery Christmas ornament and a shiny gold box. The box said it was from Southern Supreme – Old Fashioned Nutty Fruitcake. This was the company Meredith and a few other potters from Seagrove had told me about the first time I mentioned my desire for fruitcake a few weeks ago on Facebook.

The box said it was 8 oz. but it felt like 2 or 3 pounds. This was going to be good fruitcake – far from the mistake I made in thinking I might get something acceptable at Wal-Mart. What was I thinking? It was the fruitcake fever that made me do it.

In a note in the box Meredith said that this was probably more nuts than fruit and the box says that this was “More Nuts than Fruit….Fruitcake”. Opening the box it looked real good too as you can see from the picture. Also in the note Meredith said her husband Mark called this a single serving, which was kind of funny.

Around here, when it comes to slicing pie or cake or dishing out ice cream, Linda always ask if someone wants a “Starland” size portion or a normal portion. I guess my family has a habit of making big portions when it comes to desert. Our family was big so you took a big portion knowing there might not be any left over for seconds.

It took a lot of will power and a public posting on Facebook announcing that I had received a fruitcake in the mail to keep me from opening that packaging and putting a little bit of heaven in my mouth before Linda got home. A lot of will power.

Linda finally got home around 8pm and we had dinner and then I brought out the box. We took a picture first and then had at it.

Linda was reading the back label which said that it was a 100 calories per serving, not bad if you overlooked the fact that this 8oz. cake has 11 servings. That’s 1,100 calories total. Fairly soon Linda remarks that she can’t believe I’m still eating it – almost half-way through. I reply – I can’t seem to stop, but I do. And, before long I felt like I had a brick or two in my stomach. It was sooooo good, but oh my! I think I’ll try and save the other half for Christmas day. At least that’s the plan.

Southern Supreme Fruitcakes are homemade by the Scott family in Bear Creek, NC, which is on NC Hwy. 902 which runs between Seagrove and Pittsboro, NC. They have a website at (www.southernsupreme.com) where you can make an order. Their photo number is 336/581-3141.

This fruitcake is not Yankee fruitcake, but it’s damn Yankee good. And, you’all know what a damn Yankee is – one that comes South and stays. I know something about that.

I can’t say enough about how appreciative I am to Mark and Meredith Heywood for thinking of me and Linda and my recent craving for fruitcake during the holidays. They’re a couple of the great friends we have made in Seagrove – the center of pottery in North Carolina. They didn’t do this to generate this kind of response, but no good deed and fruitcake in the mail goes unrewarded.

Mark and Meredith Heywood operate Whynot Pottery, located at 1013 Fork Creek Mill Road in Seagrove. You can check out their pottery on their website at (www.whynotpottery.com); follow Meredith on her blog at (http://whynotpotteryblog.blogspot.com/); and you can check out the items they have for sale on Etsy at (http://www.etsy.com/shop/whynotpottery?ref=badge). But the best thing is to make a trip to Seagrove and visit their pottery, but call first to make sure they are there this time of year. Of course they are also on Facebook at Whynot Pottery.

Mark and Meredith are going to celebrate their 30th anniversary of operating Whynot Pottery in October of 2012. Marking our own 25th anniversary this year, we know what that means – a lot of blood, sweat and tears down the road and good times too.

Today is also Meredith’s birthday. Happy birthday my friend. We’re a better world with folks like you.

P.S. I want you to know that I’m still holding you to the promise of pineapple upsidedown cake. I know – give you a few days warning before I visit. You can count on that.

Share this article

The Annual Spring Kiln Opening at Whynot Pottery in Seagrove, NC, Takes Place – Apr. 16 and 17, 2011

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

The annual Spring Kiln Opening at Whynot Pottery in Seagrove, NC, will take place on April 16, 10am-5pm and April 17, from 10am-4pm. I know there will be other kiln openings in Seagrove during this time and we’ll get to that, but these folks sent us info and they are good supporters of Carolina Arts. We don’t have any gold stars to put in their notebook so this is the best we can do to ask you to support them by going and buying everything they have. I might even show up to encourage folks along – I’ll be the one dancin’ a jig for gas money.

Joining Meredith and Mark Heywood at Whynot Pottery this year will be:

Laurie Abela from Abela Soaps. “I’m a soap maker, massage therapist & cardiac nurse. I grow food, flowers & herbs, some of which I use in my soaps.” Check her out at (http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/).

Anne Raven Jorgensen from Raven Pottery. “My pots are all either thrown on the wheel and then altered or made from slabs of clay. I spend a lot of time decorating my pieces with wax-resist in intricate geometric designs. I also do a lot of decorating with slips in floral designs.” Check her works out at (http://www.ravenpottery.com/index.htm).

Laura Weant Johnson from Snow Hill Tileworks. Laura is well know for her fabulous tiles and jewelry. See her works at (http://snowhilltileworks.blogspot.com/).

Meredith and Mark are always willing to share opportunities with other artists and at the same time are willing to share the good talents of good friends with their visitors. That’s how they roll.

Whynot Pottery is located at 1013 Fork Creek Mill Road in Seagrove. You can find it if I could – just don’t drive too fast around those curves. If your GPS is broken or you can’t follow the map you picked up at the NC Pottery Center (don’t forget to see the Teapots exhibit) in downtown Seagrove – call 336/873-9276 – they’ll guide you in. But long before the dates roll up on you, check out their website, blog and Facebook page at these links: (www.whynotpottery.com), (http://whynotpotteryblog.blogspot.com/) or (http://www.facebook.com/whynotpotterywhynotnc). Get a good feel for what you’ll be taking home and who you can give that special gift to. Every mom could use a little pot on their special day – and that day is right around the corner. Get your head out of the clouds – I meant teapot.

To learn more about other kiln openings taking place in Seagrove at these same dates see our article on Page 36 of our April 2011 issue of Carolina Arts at (www.carolinaarts.com) or visit (www.DiscoverSeagrove.com).

You see, I wasn’t going to leave anyone out.

Share this article

Word and Pictures are Starting to Come Out from the 3rd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC

Saturday, November 20th, 2010


Some of the blogging potters in Seagrove, NC, who are part of the 3rd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters have started posting pictures and feedback on their blogs.

If you can’t read between the lines – I couldn’t go this year – I’m spend the weekend working on another pottery project. Announcement coming soon.

First word came from Around and About with Bulldog Pottery by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery. They’re young with lots of energy. And, Michael Mahan posting at From the Ground Up has offered images of his booth.

I’m sure it won’t be long before we see a report from Meredith and Mark Heywood on the Whynot Pottery Blog about what’s been going on.

New – I’ve added in Touya News the blog of Takuro Shibata and Hitomi Akebi Shibata and Turning Mud Into Gemstones the blog of Jennie Lorette Keatts. Both have added more info from the Celebration.

All of their blogs offer links to other blog where news may be soon popping up. So, if you’re like me and can’t go this year – live through the blogs.

This morning I got a call from my friend Will Ravenel who went with me to the Celebration last year – from the Celebration. He was wondering if I was on my way. I wish. And, then later he called to tell me I was again responsible for him leaving a boat load of money in Seagrove.

It’s what I do – turn people on to ways they can better spend their money – on items with lasting value. And, if you only look – that’s OK too.

Share this article

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.

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.


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.


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.

Home

Share this article