Sunday, March 04, 2007

Meet the Potters

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Meeting the Potters

It seems that Ginnie Tate collects ceramics. I've been admiring all of the nice bowls, platters, lamps, vases, and sculptures around the farm and made a comment to Steve and Ginnie. She was really pleased that I like ceramics and had noticed her things. She told me that most of the ceramics come from Seagrove, a community of potters about 30 minutes south of the farm. Seagrove is home to over 100 artists, mainly potters, who are maintaining a living tradition that goes back many generations. North Carolina pottery is well known, and there are certain forms that go back centuries. A lead-based red glaze is very eye-catching, and put this area on the map. Also, Rebecca Jugs as well as face jugs are collectible.

Since there wasn't a lot to do on the farm, Ginnie took me for a ride to show me Seagrove. Our excuse, let's look for places to take Jim when he comes for a visit. The reality, we visited many potters, spent a lot of money, and had a great time looking at art.

The drive down to Seagrove took us through Asheboro, near the North Carolina Zoo. We also drove through an old mill town called Cedar Falls. The mill made Confederate clothing. Ginnie pointed out the Blue Mist BBQ, on Hwy. 64. She says it is quite good. Oh boy! Too bad I'm still full from breakfast.

She's full of history of the area, and tells me a bit about each town as we drive along the road to Seagrove. We see a sign for Siler City. "That's a Tyson town, now," she comments. Tyson has many chicken farms in the area and they process the birds in Siler City. Asheboro and the surrounding tiny towns have seen a huge influx of Hispanics. They work with chicken and pork processing plants and have revitalized these dying towns. Now there are many tiendas and carnecerias in towns where you would expect to see boarded-up storefronts and empty markets. The locals like "the Mexicans" because they share similar values and they work hard. It is strange to see a little bit of the Mission District in North Carolina. Perhaps I'll find a good taco truck in Asheboro.

We approach Seagrove and start seeing lots of signs for potters. Our first stop is at Whynot Pottery in Whynot, just next to Seagrove. Meredith and Mark are friends of Ginnie, Steve, and Lee. Fanatastic vases, bowls, jars, teapots, and nice glazes. I bought a bud vase. Couldn't resist.

Crystal King Pottery is known for biblical figurines and face jugs. The entire family makes ceramics. Not my style, but she makes some nice folk art figurines that sell for big bucks. I think I could make a living here as an artist should I decide cheesemaking won't work.

My favorite spot was Luck's Ware. Sid Luck is a 5th-generation potter. Salt glazes to die for! Frogskin glazed stoneware makes me drool. I don't like face jugs, but his were pretty cool. Face jugs are these very collectible folk art jugs. They have gruesome faces to scare away evil spirits from the jug's contents, usually human ashes. They're funeral urns, originally. We got to see their groundhog kiln. A lowslung, brick-lined kiln that looks like a huge grave. It is dug into the earth and has a chimney on one end and a door on the other. The greeenware is place inside and a woodfire is built inside the opening. When the fire reaches a certain temperature, salt is added to change the glaze. It creates nice patterns on the stoneware. Naturally, I had to buy something. A jug is being mailed home.

Lunch at the Jughandle Café was uneventful. Off to more potters. More money gone. The drive home was along more country roads, past dying mill towns. Big discovery:

I saw a genuine Tar Paper Shack!!!! It was in good repair, obviously still occupied. Must find it again and take a picture. I am far from home.

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