First Posted: 1/15/2009
North Carolina pottery has been part of the landscape since the early 1700’s, and this state has the second longest, uninterrupted history of pottery making in the USA (behind the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest). Pottery makers have handed down traditions for generations, and several families in the Seagrove area are well into their eighth and ninth generations of turning and burning clay. Pottery has transformed from its purely utilitarian, functional purpose into art, and pottery is the number one collectible in the country today.
This area is not as well-known for its pottery as Seagrove or the Catawba valley, but it is becoming known and it does have a history of its own. McArthur Pottery of Wakulla (near Red Springs) was extremely popular in the 1960’s, selling wares as Carolina Pottery, and UNCP has a wonderful history of art pottery making.
Robeson Community College also has a long and distinguished history of pottery making, directed for many years by Jim Tripp. His students have branched out and begun their own traditions of turning, firing and transforming clay into works of art.
The North Carolina Folk Arts Festival is proud to announce that it will begin its own tradition of pottery when it hosts its initial NC Pottery Show and sale on Saturday, May 10, as part of the eighth annual NC Folk Arts Festival in St. Pauls.
The pottery show will be held in and around the Dr. R. E. Hooks Community Center, with pottery displays inside and pottery makers working outside. More than a dozen turners will be present to show and sell their work and to explain the processes involved in making pottery.
If you are on the grounds of the building during the Festival, you will see pottery being made and watch as dirt is transformed into objects of beauty and utility. The process is fascinating for people of all ages, and children, especially, are often mesmerized by the artistry and the magic.
The show and sale will feature some of the students of Jim Tripp, Mr. Tripp himself, and others from across the region. Their work will range from the purely traditional to modern styles, and will be both decorative art and useful, everyday objects.
The show is being organized by Tim McMillan, who owns and operates Green Springs Pottery near Parkton. Those attending the Christmas Show between St. Pauls and Lumberton and those who were at the Sgt. Allen Todd Day auction saw examples of Mr. McMillan’s work and artistry.
”I try not to create multiples of the same pieces,” Mr. McMillan said. “I like the uniqueness of the individuality of every piece, and so every piece is different and unique, whether they are functional or decorative.”
Mr. McMillan, who has been turning since September 2000, also said that he incorporates and combines traditional materials and techniques with his own artistic style, something most North Carolina potters try to achieve.
Come visit the potters at the North Carolina Folk Arts Festival in St. Pauls on Saturday, May 10 and see for yourself where tradition begins and where artistic license begins in each handmade piece of pottery that the 15 or more potters will be showing and offering for sale. Start your own tradition.