Perfectly pottery: Shop 8 of NC’s top pottery makers wares at The Mint Museum Store
The Mint Museum Store is a one-stop-shop to see many different styles of some of North Carolina’s top pottery artists, including Ben Owen, East Fork Pottery, and Erin Janow. Throughout the month of September all pottery at the store is 25% off. Start your holiday shopping with a visit to the store, and learn about some of the top pottery makers represented at The Mint Museum.
Ben Owen III
Ben Owen III continues a family tradition of pottery making that dates back to the 1700’s. His forefathers came to North Carolina from England to poly their craft and furnish storage jars and other utilitarian wares to early settlers. One of the most acclaimed and collected of today’s current North Carolina potters, Owen began his craft at an early age under the tutelage of his grandfather, Ben Owen I, a master potter himself. Owen went on to formally study ceramics at East Carolina University, where he garnered many awards and a BFA in ceramics in 1993. His pottery reflects a foundation in traditional designs alongside Asian influence. His work can be found in many museums including ours, The Mint Museum. Also, notably, The Smithsonian Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Singer/songwriter James Taylor and golfer Arnold Palmer are among the notables whose collections include works by Ben Owen III.
Dean and Martin Pottery
Jeff Dean and Stephanie Nicole Martin, both born and raised in the heart of North Carolina, rely on their love of nature and the land as inspiration for living the life of potters. Jeff received a BFA in ceramic design from East Carolina University. Balancing form, function and design, his forms usually come from something seen on a city walk or in nature. Stephanie received a BFA in design with a concentration in ceramics from UNC-Greensboro. Often utilizing digital, as well as printmaking, techniques, she builds the surfaces of her vessels. She makes hand-built and wheel-thrown objects using color, pattern, floral and figurative images to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Watching her grandmother sew and quilt influenced her sense of craft and design, as well as her love of 1960’s and 70’s culture and music.
East Fork Pottery
East Fork Pottery, founded in 2010 by Alexander Matisse (great-grandson of Henri Matisse) and Connie Coady, is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. East Fork designs, manufactures and sells durable ceramic dishware. Their lines are simple and fundamental. Unadorned, the work is distilled to its essential elements: form and function. It is durable and timeless, resistant to fashion and trends. Alexander along with their team of talented artisans, make their pots with dynamic, iron-rich clays dug from the American south East and colored with glazes formulated and mixed in-house. The glazes are often limited-edition colors and the collection of colors we have in the store, are from a limited batch, unavailable now from the studio itself.
Erin Janow is a potter, a wife, a mother, and a cook. Born and raised in Indiana, Erin graduated from Indiana University earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History. She began her apprenticeship working for Magnum Pottery in North Carolina as an understudy, honing her craft there for nearly seven years. In January 2009, she ventured forth as a solo potter to develop her own line. She began devoting much of her time developing new glazes and techniques and, along with her husband, a jewelry maker, working in a studio conveniently found in the basement of their home in Asheville. Erin has said, “My work is designed to be user friendly and functional. Because I also have a passion for cooking and family, my hope is that others will find happiness using my pottery when cooking meals for their families, in turn.”
John Ransmeier grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. John was introduced to clay in 1968, and just two years later, he built his first kick wheel. John worked with many potters perfecting his art and co-founded the Biltmore Clay Company in Asheville in 1976. His work can be seen in galleries throughout the country and has been collected by such notables as Oprah Winfrey. The daily challenges of ceramic materials and techniques become rewards when he passes on his work to a receptive new owner.
Jugtown Pottery is a working pottery and an American Craft Shop located in a grove of trees and bamboo eight miles south of Seagrove, in Moore County, NC. It is just off Busbee Road, a road named for Jacques and Juliana Busbee, the founders of Jugtown. Both artists with a love of craft and form, together they created Jugtown Pottery, melding forms from ancient traditions with those developed in North Carolina. In 1917 they created The Village Store and Tea Room in New York City, and in 1922 they began stamping each piece with the circular Jugtown Ware stamp.
The forms derive from simplicity and practice, a continuous line, then a complimentary glaze and occasional decoration. Drawing from the North Carolina tradition, you will find jugs, pitchers and candlesticks in wood fired Salt Glaze and Frogskin, and tableware in green, blue, brown, and gray. Vases, bowls, and jars in glazes made with wood ash, local clays, copper reds, greens, and iron earth tones, have origins in world clay traditions.Jugtown thrives on the aesthetic foundation laid out by the Busbee’s. Vernon Owens, recipient of the NC Folk Heritage Award and the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, wife Pam, son Travis and daughter Bayle are the main potters, while Bobby Owens mixes clay and glazes the pieces.
Turtle Island Pottery
Owned by Maggie and Freeman Jones, Turtle Island Pottery is named for an American Indian creation story. In its simplest form, a turtle swam to the bottom of the waters that covered the world and brought up mud to make the land. Turtle hatched her eggs on this land, and everything has come from this. Maggie and Freeman have made their living from the very stuff of creation since 1984. Their handmade stoneware pottery is both functional and decorative, with a sculptural feel. Maggie says of her process, “When I think and plan about the clay and glazes in the heat of the kiln, I envision lava flowing, crystals growing and flowers blooming. Earth, air, fire and water minerals reacting with one another, like when the earth was being formed.”
Jim Whalen’s one-of-a-kind vessels are turned on a potter’s wheel, then burnished and coated with terra sigillata, an ultra-refined clay slip that can give a soft sheen when applied to bone-dry wares and, if polished or burnished while still damp, may give a high gloss. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this technique in lieu of glaze. After bisque firing, patterns and images are created with wax resist. The patterns he creates are sometimes mathematical, sometimes emotional, but always drawn from within and are intended to evoke images of an evolving planet. His unique firing process explores the lower temperature ranges of wood, salt, and soda, enhancing these patterns. Because the process is challenging and unpredictable, each piece achieves a uniqueness that is impossible to duplicate.