Monday, May 19, 2008

Mountain Pottery

Artisans of all types live and work in Western North Carolina (WNC). Transylvania County is home to a large number of skilled potters, some whose families have lived here for generations.

Many WNC potters still use wood ash for the glazes. Traditional potters used materials found locally. Wood ashes, and variations in firing methods result in lovely brown, gold, and green glazes.

Here is a large jar we have.

Face jugs are extremely popular. Here are a couple of whimsical face jugs we own.

While these face jugs evoke more laughter than fear, the traditional face jugs of the 1800s were quite different. Some WNC potters still make these scary, somewhat demonic face jugs in much the same way the slaves made them before the Civil War. The slaves made the jugs based on African tribal beliefs and they were often placed on graves to scare away evil spirits. They were also placed in dark corners of houses to keep the devil himself from coming inside.

The tourist industry led to a demand for less demonic and more comical face jugs. Not many people want such dark and rather creepy jugs in their homes.

Here is my favorite pot. It is a feast for the eyes and wonderfully tactile. One feels a sense of calmness rubbing one’s hands across the raised portions of the glaze, and looking at the wonderful and rich colors. (Please click to enlarge the image to fully appreciate the colors.)
And guess what? That is the backside of the jug. On the front is an intricate carving of a young boy holding a pig. The process for this type of glazing and art work is complex and only a few potters have the glazing, firing, and etching skills to produce such lovely works of art.

I’ve shown you only a few pieces of the wonderful pottery we have around here. In future posts, I will take you to visit some of our talented potters. You will love the work they do.


Jayne said...

What a great collection you have Carolyn! I love the last one too. What is it about the mountains that draws so many artisans? In Asheville, there was a gallery on every corner.

The Birdlady said...

How cool is that?!

Unknown said...

Carolyn you've touched on something I absolutely love. I love pottery and have a small collection of raku pots.
I am so looking forward to seeing the potters in your area.