Wednesday, December 2, 2009

North Carolina Pottery

Living and spending all my youth in Seagrove has had some effect on how I view pottery. How could it not.
My early years were shaped by the potters who made pots back in the late 50's and early 60's.
These were my grandparents friends and relatives.
Me, the city kid, and a bit prissy, did not know how much I would absorb from these folks.
I mean, to me, they were first off old.
Not so old now that I am heading down that path.
And second off pottery was, you know, messy.
I told you I was prissy, but give me a break I was a city kid and about seven when I really started this adventure.
When I would visit with the grandparents we spent time with Dot and Walter Auman and Phil and Nell Cole graves.
We also spent time at their pottery shops, which ran like well oiled machines.
There was a job for every step and a person for every job.
If you were the "turner" there was a ball person for you.
You stood at the wheel making pots, while someone else, using a list, made up all the balls of clay you would need for the day.
( how would you like that time saver?)
There was someone else to take off what you have made and fix the pots and put on handles.
(another time saver!)
Someone else did the glazing, no thought process for you.
Someone else loaded and fired the kilns.
And, pots were then unloaded by a crew for the show room.
There was a division of labor.
This was as close to factory as you could get for a handmade item.
Not like most of of today.
Dot would call us "studio potters."
Her explanation to me was, " you do it all, you do every step of the process, not letting go of the object until it is up for sale."
I sometimes think of those well oiled machines of the past and think they had some real in site into how much work it took to get it from the very first step, mixing the clay, to the last step, for someone to buy and enjoy.
And yet even with all this knowledge I took the step to be a studio potter.
I still like to make my own, glaze it and look at the final work and know it is mine or Mark's.
Yes we do have some help now and again, but I can still pick out my work or his.
For the good and the bad.
I have an older brother who also traveled this path with me.
( well there are 5 of us and we are all pottery lovers.)
He has been collected pottery over the years while I went on to be the potter.
He has written some ace articles on NC pottery on his blog Backcounty Notes.
He just posted up a new post on one of my favorite shapes, North Carolina Jugs.
Give it a read and poke through his other articles on pottery I think you will enjoy them.


Linda Starr said...

Wow, Jay has outdone himself again, what a great article and photos. I am learning so much about pottery from his blog. Thx.

Barbara said...

Enjoyed the pictures and information on your brother's blog. What a collection.
Can't believe you had a prissy stage.
Thanks for sharing your memories. I often wish I could go back in time but with my adult mind, and revisit some of those old relatives and hear their stories again.

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