Monday, December 7, 2009

Making pots

As most of you know if you had been reading this blog we live in the country.
We live on what was my grandparents farm smack in the middle of an area which is know for it's history of clay and clay making.
Or in layman's terms.
It is well know for it's pottery.
Seagrove is rich in its tradition of pottery.
We don't even come close to touching places like China, Japan or Korea when it comes to making pottery, but for the USA and it's youth we are pretty strong with a tradition which dates back to the late 1600's.
We live among potters with names such as, Cole, Auman, Craven, Teague, Owen, Owens, Fox, Chriscoe, Chrisco, and others I am sure I have left off.
When we moved here In 1976 many of these families still had running pottery shops, but many of them had gone on to work at different jobs.
Good paying mill jobs in surrounding towns allowed for someone to make a good living.
By the time we moved here there were only about a six working pottery shops.
Seagrove Pottery run by Walter and Dot Auman.
JB Cole, run by Nell Cole Graves and brother Waymon Cole.
Jugtown Pottery, run by Nancy Sweezy
Joe Owens- Joe Owens.
Teagues over in Robbins.
Old Gap Pottery, Phil Pollet
The new kids on the block back then were Westmoore Pottery, run by David and Mary Farrel.
I am sure there may have been a few more but it escapes me at the moment.
When we opened our pottery shop in 1982 we brought those numbers up to a round dozen.
12 pottery shops, which you could easily go and see in one day.
The next year a few more opened and then the year after that a few more.
By the late 80's and through the 90's the number grew to somewhere close to 80 shops.
Some will say 100, but I think right in the area it was more like 80.
That is a lot of pottery!
Like all things it has it's ups and downs and with a faulty economy we have watched as shops have closed.
Now the numbers in the area have gone down, but by no means are there just a few shops.
I have not made a recent count but I would say our numbers are still strong.
What can you find if you come to Seagrove to see pottery?
You can still find potters with the family backgrounds where pottery was past down from one generation to the next.
You will find potters like us who learned at a community college and through the absorption of the older potters who were still making pots in the late 70's and early 80's.
You will find potters who moved here bringing their skills with them
You will find potters with college backgrounds well schooled and trained in glaze and clay.
But my thoughts are you will find a wide variety of pottery being made here.
Earthenware, stoneware, Raku, gas fired, low fired, wood fired, and so on.
As you travel from shop to shop you will find that if you give 100 potters a piece of clay they will all made something different.
Amazing stuff this clay.
So here we are ready to finish up our 27th year making pots in Seagrove and
I am still amazed that this is how we make our living.
I am still amazed at the potters who were here before us, the ones who are here now and the ones who will follow behind us.
It has been interesting to watch an area change as this one has the last 27 years.
But what new things are in store for Seagrove as we move into another year.
It will be interesting to watch.

9 comments:

jimgottuso said...

it's an amazing tradition... congrats on 27 years, i'm hoping i live that long

cindy shake said...

All of the history is wonderful! Truthfully, I had no idea of the area's culture being so deeply rooted in pottery until I started blogging (which I NEVER thought I'd do). I've learned so much this past year from all of you potters so WILLING to share - I can see why many of you are so successful even in a market with an abundance of one medium. THANKS!

traceybroome@mindspring.com said...

It's funny, Sid Lick and I were having this same conversation on Saturday. He has such a great tradition in his family and I am one of the new guys. It was a little intimidating being right beside him, but he was so warm and generous and I had a great time being there with him. It could have been awkward for someone with a more competitive streak maybe, I just looked at it as one more step in my learning process and sat back and watched him work. You are so right, you can give 100 people a piece of clay and get 100 different things and there are people out there with 100 different tastes so that's good! Just keep making quality work and treat your customers kindly, they will come back for more!

HENHOUSE POTTERY said...

Meredith, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Seagrove on a business trip in 2005. I extended my trip over a weekend so I'd have a chance to visit pottery shops in the area on my own time. I can't even begin to express what an incredible culture of pottery Seagrove has. Two additional days was only enough time to visit about 20 potters, which was only a small percentage of the total. I could have spent weeks there and not seen all the wonderful pottery!

In comparison to so many places in the Western US, Utah included, Seagrove is a mature pottery market with potters comfortable in their tradition, and in sharing that tradition with each other & "outsiders." It made me realize how much other states are still in their infancy when it comes to the production of pottery. We have clay assocations in Utah, but nothing like the community that is evident in Seagrove. I have further enjoyed seeing the specifics of your daily pottery making in your blog. It reminds me of the warmth and welcome feeling I had walking through so many of Seagrove's pottery shops years ago. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Starr said...

I can't wait to get out there and visit, I'm like Jim, I hope I love that long.

cookingwithgas said...

Linda- i hope you love that long too and longer even.
Jim- you make wonderful pots!
Henhouse you were here in 2005! I only wish I knew you then!
TB- Someone like Sid is a treat to know.
And Cindy one day you will just have to make the trip!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I have a lot of books, well, 2 at least, that look at the pottery history there in the 70s and before, when it was still just families, COOOOOOOOOOOOL!

Jariris said...

Our short tour of Seagrove this year was lovely, and we got to see such an amazing variety.

You were a great tour guide!

Patricia Griffin said...

What a rich legacy. I hope to visit someday.