Things are shaping up: Potters Guild offering up second annual holiday show
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Add up the years these artisans have been throwing and firing their clay creations and it’s nothing short of impressive.
Marion Schlauch, for example, started as a potter almost 40 years ago and is the founder of the Blount County Potters Guild. Another, David Grant, has been honing his skills in the trade for 25 years. Marjorie Murphy can trace her love of pottery back to 1994 when she took a class in college.
Then there’s Carol Ware, the creator of whimsical animals, who first dug clay from the Tennessee River when she was just a child. She taught art for 36 years at Maryville High School. Caroline Thomas, whose specialty is face jugs, has owned her pottery company since 1986.
All coming together
These potters who continue in their craft will all be part of the Blount County Potters Guild second annual Holiday Show and Sale to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Blount County Public Library.
But there’s more.
The guild has added two new members, Lee McKinney and David Huber, and both are joining the others in this holiday extravaganza.
McKinney is probably familiar to many as he is a native of Blount County. His family has been here since the mid-1700s. He was raised in East Millers Cove.
This clay artist has been playing in clay since 1971. He loves the architecture of buildings, especially the historic homes and barns in the area. He copies many of his favorites in clay, stains and fires them to bring out the details. He owns the Salvage House and has even built a replica of it.
Another familiar name in the pottery world is David Huber, who owns Stringtown Pottery in Nawger Nob in Townsend. Huber first started in clay in 1970 while he was a student at Maryville College. He tells people he saw someone throwing a pot one day and said “That’s what I want to do.”
And he has, much to the delight of fellow Blount Countians and tourists.
Huber spent some time living in Japan when he was a child and that may have influenced his choice of firing techniques. He mostly fires his pieces using the Raku process, which originated in Japan hundreds of years ago.
Schlauch is thrilled to have these other potters as partners in the sale on Saturday. She said there was tremendous response to last year’s show and they are optimistic about this one.
“This has turned into kind of our home show,” she said. “We decided to combine as a group and make this a county-wide event. The library is a great, central location.”
Something for everyone
The talent of these seven featured artists is all over the place. Schlauch said she is more into the functional pottery pieces, like trays, bowls, mugs and pitchers. Ware loves to make use of her light-hearted side with her variety of animals. She also makes jewelry.
Face jugs are a specialty of Thomas, a Madisonville native. She has an historical interest in the world of crafts. Face jugs, Schlauch said, may date back to slaves in the South who used them to mark graves.
Grant lives in Maryville and has found a way to use felled or fallen trees on his property. He wood fires his functional work where the wood ash melts on his pieces for a very unique and distinctive look. Very few potters fire their pottery this way, Schlauch said, because it’s so labor intensive.
Murphy has yet another distinct style. She uses lace or native plants in East Tennessee to create impressions in her pottery. She does mostly hand built and thrown work and owns Little River Pottery in Townsend.
There is sure to be something for all artistic tastes, Schlauch said. In addition to being able to view and purchase the different pieces, Ware will also be demonstrating her work.
That’s important for those who might want to give it a try. It was a popular trade decades ago, but that has certainly changed.
“There are so few people taking this up anymore,” Schlauch said. “When I started in the 1970s there were a lot.”
Last year there was a college student who stopped by to ask questions during the show. She was in the ceramics program at the University of Tennessee. Schlauch said they still keep in touch.