The Saturday morning after the opening of the "Clay and Blogs" show in Southern Pines, Meredith Heywood took Dee and me on a day-long pottery-to-pottery tour of the North Carolina pottery community of Seagrove. We saw a lot of kilns and pots and met some very friendly folks, some of whom were in the midst of firing when we arrived. We thank them all for their hospitality.
Most potters who read this blog will know that Seagrove and the area around the town hold what is likely the greatest concentration of potteries in this country. It is, in some ways, the Mashiko of the United States; a place where pottery has been made for centuries, but whose fame has drawn new potters who work outside the Carolina folk tradition but still love the clay community there.
It is almost literally impossible to drive a quarter-mile in Seagrove without seeing a sign advertising a pottery studio. There are dozens. We saw only a fraction of that, stopping at, I think, eight studios. We talked with Tom Gray, Mike Mahan, Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gohlson of Bulldog Pottery, Lisa and Chris Luther, Takuro and Hitomi Shibata and their boys, John Mellage and Beth Gore, Mark and Meredith Heywood (our hosts). We tried to visit Dave Stuemple's kiln, but he was away from his house.
Takuro and Hitomi were doing a bisque firing in the noborigama chamber of their new Shigaraki-style wood kiln, under a beautiful kiln shed. Their young son Ken was stoking from a distance. John Mellage was good-naturedly supervising his brother's stoking; we all commented on the (yes, it's true) sheetrock temporary door to the firebox. Mike Mahan's manabigama wood kiln had been fired a couple of days before and we arrived late in the day while there was still food available at his Saturday kiln-opening. Mike is still working out his new kiln, but is getting nice ash and toasty surfaces on his pots. Chris and Lisa Luther are still finishing off their new studio after a recent fire; they have lots of room in the new building. He's making great pots and the two of them are raising three boys. Samantha and Bruce were generous in showing their studio and kiln, then taking us for a brief tour of their new - and un-country potter-like - studio and home down the hill from their old place. They are turning out truly remarkable crystal-glazed pots. We finished up with a brief look at Ben Owen's gallery and extensive kilnyard.
No doubt I'll put more photos in the next post, but let's see what we can get in this one.
Photos, from top: One of Bulldog Pottery's amazing crystal-glazed pots, John Mellage's kiln (note the sheetrock door), Lisa Luther with some of Chris's pots, Dee with Mike Mahan's productive fig tree, Tom Gray and racks of Tom Gray pots.