At Seagrove magic pottery wheels keep on turning…

Love pottery crafts? Looking for exquisite Christmas gifts? Then drive to Seagrove, NC the pottery capital of the world!

Join the 28th Annual Seagrove Pottery Festival on November 21 and 22 at Seagrove Elementary School.

Native Americans, the First Potters(data from NC Pottery Center exhibits)

Native Americans in the Carolina have been making utilitarian and ceremonial vessels for more than 4,500 years. The first pots were carved from soapstone. About 3,000 years ago indigenous tribes across the Southeast started to transform the clay into fired pottery.
Replica of 4000 years old Indian fire pit and clay vessels

• Women were the primary potters, digging the clay, mixing it with sand, crushed rocks or mussel shells to give the vessel strength and firing it in simple pits.

Pinching, coiling and hand-working techniques were passed from generation to generation.

• The fire pit model on display at the NC Pottery Center contains vessels with surfaces textured by beating with carved paddles, impressing textiles or burnishing with a polishing stone. Vessels were warmed around the edges then gently rolled into the coals to continue hardening.

• Native Americans did not use a wheel to make pottery. Instead they created wares by a process called coiling. Pots were built from a pinched base by stacking coils one on the other, or the reverse upside-down from a large coil on the rim to the pointed bottom. The smoke created black patterns as seen on the ones in the exhibit.

The European Influence

Early European pottery kiln methods

• At the time of European settlement, the most prominent tribes were the Tuscarora in the coastal plains, the Siouan in Eastern Piedmont, the Catawba in Western Piedmont and the Cherokees in the mountains. The Cherokees and the Catawba tribes are still active potters today.

• The earliest European wheel-turned and chambered fired pottery was found at the Santa Elena archaeological site on Parris Island, a Spanish fort established in the 16th century.

• During the 1700s potters of English and German descend emigrated to North Carolina where they set up shops which produced lead-glazed earthenware.

• In 1800s they transitioned to higher fired stoneware and alkaline and salt glazes.

A taste of local flavor…

See all tools of traditional pottery in an authentic shop replica
The 19th century shop on display at the Pottery Center (including the tools and glaze mill), are an exact replica of the one used by Harvey Rienhardt and Burlon Craig in Henry, NC.

• Potters referred to themselves as “turners”

• Wheels are “lathes” (pronounced “lays”)

• Kilns (pronounced “kills”) are “burned”, not fired.

The NC Pottery Center, located downtown Seagrove, is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM to 4PM. Admission is $2 adults, free for kids 12 and under and for NCPC members. Every Saturday come enjoy Free pottery making demos with a local artist.

Just half an hour away is the NC Zoo, one of the best zoological parks in the country.


2 Responses

  1. There is also the Celebration of Seagrove Potters taking place the weekend before Thanksgiving, inside at the Historic Lucks Cannery, Seagrove (central Piedmont NC). There is a Gala on Friday night starting at 6:00pm-9:00pm. Tickets need be purchased on line for Friday night, and also get you in for Sat and Sun. The gate fee on Sat. Nov.21 9am-6pm and Sun Nov. 22 from 10am-4pm can be bought at the door and that costs $5.00. There will around 59 Seagrove Potters selling their pottery. Hope to see you there!

  2. the Celebration of Seagrove Potters will showcase the work of authentic Seagrove potters indoors at Luck’s Cannery, November 20-22, 2009. Friday night is the Preview Gala ($35 in advance allows admittance all days),with a catered reception, live music, early shopping and the exclusive Seagrove Collaborative auction-pieces created by artists that do not normally work together on pieces, making them truly one of a kind!

    Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-4 is the potters marketplace with demonstrations, a special kids only area that allows hands on with clay and a booth for kids to shop at kids prices (no adults please), historical and educational talks, including an exhibit by the NC Pottery Center, a variety of food vendors and more!

    Show admission is only $5 at the door.

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