Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Potter's Paradise

Posted November 16, 2007
Updated November 19, 2007

Who is your favorite North Carolina potter? Or what is your favorite pottery? As you ponder that question let me flash back a few years and tell you about a terrific trip.

It was a fourth grade assignment for my daughter Lauren: do a video news report on something important to North Carolina. Lauren and I talked about the possibilities and we decided to hit the road for a journey to Jugtown.   Lauren interviewed and videotaped a young potter, Travis Owens (pictured here) who is carrying on a multi generational tradition at the kick wheel. It was one of those wonderful father-daughter trips that we still talk about today.

This weekend you can plunge head first into the creative clay of of our Carolina potters. The Seagrove Pottery Festival in Randolph County is the largest pottery festival of its type. It's a great opportunity to visit scores of potters under one roof. The Southeast Tourism Society calls this one of the 20 Best Events in the region this season.

87 potters will surprise and delight you this weekend as they carry on a 200 year Tar Heel tradition. Seagrove is located just south of Asheboro. You can make a day of it. Take the kids to the state zoo and then treat yourself to some pottery. 

Plus, pottery makes great Christmas gifts!


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  • kcommiskey Nov 21, 2007

    Virgina Shelton was my great Aunt. When I was a kid, my mom and grandmother took my best friend and me to her shop - Shelton Pottery. I got to play on the pottery wheels and make my own stuff. They stuck it in the kilns and I still have it to this day. Its horribly ugly, but its mine!

  • davidpmcknight Nov 19, 2007

    Our North Carolina potters deserve support from Ahoskie to Amarillo (county seat of Potter County, Texas, which was named for Granville County, N.C., native Robert Potter in case anybody wondered).

    I was watching the conclusion of a PGA tournament not long ago and noticed how much the winner's trophy looked like it was pottery rather than silver or metal. Then I wondered: why don't the good folks at Pinehurst consider using North Carolina pottery for some of their own golf tournament trophies?

    That would be a nice touch next time the PGA comes to Moore County. Not only could the winning golfer take home a bundle, but he or she could also be rewarded with a fine piece of Down Home North Carolina pottery.

    David Proctor McKnight--Durham

  • eastof raliegh Nov 19, 2007

    Thank you for this wonderful story. I am a distant descendant of the Owens family (on my Moms side). My mother says that her father Leonard played as a child in and around the pottery shops, and kilns. One of the more frightening stories is when they as children would run across the kilns while they were firing pottery to prove how brave they were. The old ground hog kilns had no mortar to hold the bricks in place only gravity so to say the least this was wayyy beyond dangerous. I have visited them on a few occasions and try to attend the family reunions. We are all very proud of the members that remain and continue the traditions that our family started back in the late 1800's and we are proud to say we are related to some of Nc's finest artists.

  • thefensk Nov 19, 2007

    Well, we haven't been to Seagrove in a long time, but years ago we were fortunate enough to meet Nell Cole Graves. She was awesome and we have some pieces she crafted well into her eighties.

  • jchalmersnc Nov 18, 2007

    Tom Gray. His pottery is great, but his friendship means more. If you drop by his shop, you will find a soul who treats all travelers as guests in his home.

  • ADN4now Nov 17, 2007

    Tom Gray is my favorite potter. He is in the Seagrove area. Of course I am biased, he is family. I don't get to see him nearly as much as I would like, when he was in Littleton, he was much closer to home. But I still visit his website to feel the connection.

  • jetset Nov 17, 2007

    Seagrove is a good place to go for beautiful pottery. My husband and I have been several times and even visited the festival once. I also want to say to you Bill that even though I don't know you at all, I think you must be a great father. Spending quality time with your children is a blessing to you and to them.

  • MaplesMom Nov 16, 2007

    I love Seagroves. As a NC Jaycee, I am in Asheboro regularly and I always try to squeeze in a Seagroves visit whenever I can. My favorite shop is the Blue Moon Gallery. Such unique collections. I may just have to head down there tomorrow. Thanks for the tip!!!

  • bleslie Nov 16, 2007

    Thanks for mentioning Cedar Creek Pottery. I haven't been there in years but what I remember is very positive - beautiful and creative works.

  • Familymatters Nov 16, 2007

    If you like pottery then you probably already know about Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoore - They just celebrated their 40th anniversary a few weeks ago and it's a great place to meet local artists and see some truly wonderful craftsmanship!




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Bill Leslie