The North Carolina
Potters, like other craftspeople, are a mix of opposites: they value the solitude of the time they spend working in their studios, while having a clear appreciation of the value of community. As someone who must frequently organize craftspeople to work together, Denise Cook (Director of the Toe River Arts Council) uses the phrase "herding cats" for good reason.
So when a group of potters based in Mitchell and
The SPPM is organized and run by the participants as an invitational show for thirty of the region's best potters. It's a community, "family" operation. Through their work the artists bring the fierce privacy of their studios to a group setting and invite the world in for a visit. Individuals and community: the hand of the maker reaching through the clay pot and sculpture to touch the heart of the user.
The diversity of both the individuals and the work will amaze the visitor. From striking figurative sculpture to handsome and energetic functional pottery, encompassing stoneware and earthenware and everything in between, the SPPM gives the visitor the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with clay artists ranging in age from their twenties to their eighties.
Consider Jane Peiser, age 77, who came to western NC in 1969. She makes pots and sculpture of colored porcelain, using a technique adapted from glassblowing. But like the other participants in the SPPM, it was not only the satisfaction of working with clay that drew her to her craft, but the lifestyle as well: being self-employed, the sense of community, and the blurring of boundaries between what is work and what is play. While enrolled in a Masters of Liberal Arts Program at Duke University years ago, her curiosity about the things that come with ”the studio life” led Jane to do a study and survey about craftspeople and retirement. Every Saturday for six weeks Jane hosted a dinner for a different group of 6 to 8 craftspeople, after which she handed out a set of questions concerning retirement and tape-recorded the conversation. The consistent theme was that the craft artists didn't have anything they wanted to retire from, and their overwhelming concern was to stay fit and healthy in order to continue making their work into very old age.
that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to make pottery, but Jon
Ellenbogen has lived that maxim first hand. After earning a PhD in
Engineering Science from
people, at an early age, are clear about what they want their working
life to be. Artists seem inclined to do more wandering, sampling
different professions before the discovery of self-rewarding work
becomes a priority that makes the risks of financial uncertainty
worthwhile. Tzadi Turrou went to 5 colleges, including the
Pam Brewer comes from a military family. Her father's position in the Special Forces required that the Brewers be constantly on the move: as a child Pam went to 11 different schools and lived in 10 different places, in the
visitor, a walk through the Spruce Pine Potters Market is to enjoy the
astounding singularity and diversity of objects made from clay. Talk to
the artists and you step into a rich variety of backgrounds and
interests. Thirty potters, each with a unique story told through their
work in clay. The setting for the show is the historic
3rd Annual Spruce Pine Potters Market
(Free admission and free parking)
Cross Street Commerce Building
31 Cross Street (look for signs)
Spruce Pine NC 28777
October 10 & 11, 2009
Open 10 am – 5 pm
For more information visit the website at