Tag Archives: Pottery

An Overdue Thank You

I’ve been at Weymouth working on Coming Through the Fire, AKA the pottery book. The story owes its beginning to two articles in The News and Observer—many, many years ago. But after I started writing, my friend Melanie, who knew much more about the world of North Carolina pottery, especially the Seagrove area, took me touring one Saturday.

We stood and talked to Ben Owen III as he turned, walked the grounds of Jugtown, and stood in the sales cabin that Julianna and Jacques Busbee built oh so many years ago. I was hooked. I have all the beautiful pieces that I got that day. And buried somewhere in my world-record-holding-number-of-photographs-piled-into-boxes, I have a picture that she took on that sunny day of me standing beside a groundhog kiln. The kind of picture that makes you smile at the memory of the day.

So Melanie is long overdue a thank you for the wonderful gift of her knowledge and for that glimpse into the world of Seagrove that I needed. She also deserves a big thank you for always cheering me on and for reading and rereading my work, and for asking ever so politely after she read a draft of Every Good and Perfect Gift, “Did Maggie and Alex have sex in Chapter Thirteen because I think that’s what happened, but you given us so little to go on, it’s hard to tell.” I did rewrite that section, but clearly if anyone is reading my books for the sex scenes, I’ve got bad news. However, the good news is that any clear writing is in part a testament to Melanie and her eye.

More recently, I owe her my appreciation for another kind of pottery gift. After the loss of her father, a man she greatly loved and admired, and some health issues of her own, Melanie began the process of cleaning, redoing, and brightening her home to help move past this winter of her life. She decided to downsize her pottery collection, and she gave me this wonderful bag of pots—literally, a paper bag stuffed full of pots wrapped in bubble wrap. Christmas come early!

The pots represent all number of Seagrove area potters, but my two favorite pieces are a vase by Vernon Owens of Jugtown Pottery. He and his wife, fellow potter, Pamela Lorette Owens were incredibly generous with their time as I worked on the book. I love the splash of pink almost red on the throat of the vase. The glaze is so shiny that if the picture were magnified you could see a reflection of me taking the picture.


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The other is a smaller vase from Whynot Pottery in Whynot, North Carolina. It’s a shade that they call cosmic blue. I love the indented sides.


So Melanie, thanks so much for all you’ve done, but really thanks for being my friend!

Now I’m off to figure out where I can put these pots so they won’t meet the floor should when  the cats attempt to use them as payback for whatever my trespass of the week day.

That Pot and That Flower

My book currently waiting for the proper midwife to breathe published life into it is Coming Through the Fire. It’s about potters in Randolph County, North Carolina–well really the confluence of Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph counties, a spot referred to as the Seagrove area. What makes these potters and this place so special? Here, the tradition of pottery making has been passed from generation to generation since the early 1700s. New blood has joined in, nurtured by the rich community of artists that live and work in this area. My book is loosely based on part of the Jugtown Pottery story, a pottery founded originally by Jacques and Julianna Busbee.

And that brings me to the pot in the banner picture atop this web page. It’s a pitcher made by Vernon Owens, who along with his wife Pam Owens, owns Jugtown Pottery. Vernon, Pam, and their son Travis are the potters at this shop of American craft. If you’ve never been, you owe yourself
the trip.

But back to the picture pitcher, it’s salt-glazed with a tear of melted glass running down beside the handle.

Want a better look?

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Inside it’s an amazing blue.

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And the flower? The flower I grew myself. (Full disclosure: my sister did repot it for me for Christmas.) Known far and wide as killer of plants, I have kept this hydrangea alive all summer long on my front porch. The colors have cycled through a very light blue and then a lilac shade and now a gorgeous green and pink, each shade amazing in its own way.



So together these two images are a perfect hybrid for my books. Every Good and Perfect Gift has a lovely hydrangea photo on the frontispiece of the book, and the pitcher reminds me of so many wonderful things about the next book: all the amazing pottery I’ve seen, trips to Seagrove and Jugtown, and the characters and friends who’ve shared the journey of this new book with me.

Oh, and that I need to go and water the hydrangea on the
front porch.