JOHN CHAPPELL: North Notes: Festival Time on Pottery Road
This weekend is festival time on N.C. 705 -- the Pottery Highway -- above Robbins. It is the traditional weekend for the Seagrove Pottery Festival and also marks the inaugural festival of the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.
More than 70 percent of Seagrove area potters are working together and participating in this new festival, aiming to keep the "Seagrove" mark representative of authentic area potters. Visitors will be able to meet these Seagrove artists and purchase the wide variety of pottery that they create under one roof.
The Celebration of Seagrove Potters also offers an opportunity to participate in historical and educational programs. Children can try their hand in clay and purchase "kid-priced" pieces of pottery. Proceeds from the children's area will be donated to arts programs of local elementary schools.
The North Carolina Pottery Center booth -- staffed by knowledgeable volunteers -- will exhibit historic pots, provide information on N.C. Pottery and sell books, catalogs and stands. Terry Zug, UNC-Chapel Hill professor and historian, will speak Saturday on the significance of preserve jars from the Seagrove area.
In his book "Turners and Burners," Zug wrote of what he called "intangible qualities" of these potters' shops clustered about that highway from mid-Moore County up through Seagrove -- qualities he said only emerged gradually and increased the difficulties of classification.
"Most apparent is the pervasive family orientation," Zug said. "Reinforcing these clay clans is the deep sense of place. Finally, there is the potter's historical self-consciousness. It is a genuine sense of the past that gives pride and purpose and guidance to the present."
It is that long tradition and the sense of place and people that this festival seeks to preserve and honor.
Also on Saturday, Pam Owens of Jugtown Pottery will discuss the history of the Early Jugtown Pottery. On Sunday, Linda Carnes-McNaughton will discuss the history of "cultured cabbage" and how it relates specifically to stoneware jars, and later that day Ray Owen will talk about Ray Auman and the Auman Pottery.
Throughout the weekend, noted Seagrove potters will give demonstrations. On Saturday, fifth-generation potter Sid Luck will share Seagrove history and why Seagrove has been designated the Pottery Capital of the United States. He is currently the administrator of TAPS (Traditional Arts Programs for Students), a North Carolina Arts Council initiative. The North Carolina Pottery Center is the site for the Seagrove TAPS.
Traditional potters from the Seagrove community of Moore and Randolph counties instruct fifth-grade students from Seagrove Elementary School in numerous traditional clay processes, including clay preparation, hand-building, wheel-turning, glazing and firing pottery forms drawn from traditional use and practice. In connection with the program, in place for five years, local instructors have included COSP participants Laura Avery, Crystal King, Chad Brown, and Terry Hunt among others.
Other demonstrating potters throughout the weekend include: Charlie Riggs, Eck McCanless, Jared Zehmer, David Stuempfle, Craig Kovack, Jeffery Dean, Randy James, Ben Owen, David Fernandez, Chris Luther and Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up Pottery.
"This event represents a shift toward celebrating the potters of Seagrove in an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation, working with each other to promote our trade and our way of life," said Mahan, "I volunteered to demonstrate because it's a way of giving back to this community where I've been able to make a living doing something I love, and to share that spirit of living and working in clay with people who come to visit the potters of Seagrove."
Saturday, Nov. 22, the show is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23. A second fundraising auction will be held Saturday, at 4 p.m. offering pieces donated by participating and other local artists. Food and beverages are available. Admission is $5 and children 12 and under are free. Attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food item for a food drive.
Contact John Chappell by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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