- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

SEAGROVE, N.C. (AP) - The tiny town of Seagrove is home to a single stoplight, a cozy restaurant with booths and a lunch counter, a small hardware store on Main Street and a smaller building next to it that houses the Town Hall and Police Department.

It’s also the center of one of the largest and oldest communities of pottery makers in the United States. More than 100 potters make and sell their wares in and around Seagrove.

Offerings run the gamut in style, design and purpose, depending on the particular potter’s talents and interests. There’s everything from earth-toned dinnerware to vibrantly colored vases, folk art coffee cups to elegant urns, garden ornaments, lamps, teapots and more.

“Seagrove is a treasure hunt through the community,” said Phil Morgan, who started his eponymous pottery business in 1973 and is known for his crystalline glazes.

“You can’t make a whirlwind tour,” he said, or you’ll miss out - on the variety of styles and items from different potters and on the ability to meet the potters and see them in their workspaces.

Pottery making has been happening in the Seagrove area since pre-Colonial days, nourished by abundant and diverse natural clay deposits and the creativity and skill of its practitioners, according to Seagrove tourist literature.

Still, only a few potters existed in Seagrove through the 1960s. Then came a renewed interest in handcrafted items like pottery, and Seagrove’s potter numbers started to swell. Today, the area is dotted with pottery businesses, found in log cabins, old houses, one-time gas stations and converted storefronts. Many are in Seagrove proper. Others, like Morgan’s business, are between Seagrove and Robbins on the Pottery Highway - N.C. 705 - or just off it.

They represent competition for each other, but their numbers also help draw visitors.

David Garner, who operates Turn and Burn Pottery on East Avenue in Seagrove with his wife, Deborah, said he welcomes other potters.

“Competition is good for business,” he said. “First it makes you sick. Then it makes you better.”

Garner, who’s 64 and twinkle-eyed over a brushy white moustache, has been making pottery for 45 years.

“One of the reasons I love it is you never learn it all,” he said. “Even after all these years, I’m still learning.”

Visitors can learn a lot, too.

Behind Turn and Burn on a recent sweltering day, Garner and stepson Robert McDowell filled a gaping brick kiln with pieces of handmade pottery - coffee cups with funny faces and fish with toothy mouths, graceful vases and useful jugs, wine cups, carafes, bowls, plates and more.

Garner and McDowell crowded the pieces onto carefully balanced stone slabs.

All were a dull light gray. They would stay that way until the kiln was closed and a roaring wood fire lit beneath, heating the interior as high as 2,400 degrees for several hours.

When the heavy door was removed, the pottery pieces would shine with color and durability, ready for the shop shelves.

“A lot of this business is what we call dog work,” Garner said. “It has to be done exactly right.”

But getting it right is part of the pleasure of the work.

So is delighting the eye. Garner looked at a small, playful jug shaped like a silly pig.

Smiling, he said, “You have to keep part of it fun.”

___

Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, https://www.fayobserver.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide