Friday, January 29, 2016

Linda Christianson - Visiting Artist! Haywood Community College


Linda Christianson - Visiting Artist!

Haywood Community College
Professional Crafts Clay Program
7000 Creative Arts Building 
Room 7226


Mon, Feb 8th   9am - Noon & 1 - 5pm - Demos and conversation

Tues, Feb 9th  9am - 11:50am - Demos and slide lecture

                          1pm - 4pm - Individual talks w/ participants   

Directions to Haywood: 

Contact Terry Gess for more information.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

29th annual North Carolina Potters Conference - March 4-6, 2016

Tony Clennell- Pottery Demonstrator- 29th annual NC Potters Conference

Tony Clennell is a potter and teacher living in Aylmer, Ontario.

 March 4-6, 2016
Friday - Saturday - Sunday
Asheboro, North Carolina
Hosted by the Randolph Arts Guild
Opening Reception/Networking, Thursday, 6:00 PM, March 3 
  The NC Potters Conference begins Friday morning with three slide lectures by the demonstrating potters: Tony Clennell, Sunshine Cobb, and Steven Godfrey. After Friday lunch they begin their afternoon of demonstrating together on stage.  There are large TV screens for optimal and close-up viewing of the artists as they work and interact with each other and the audience. This year Chris Staley will be presenting his talk Friday evening about creativity and clay.  Tony Clennell, Sunshine Cobb, and Steven Godfrey will be demonstrating all day Saturday. After Saturday's barbecue dinner at the Exchange, Dwight Holland invites the conference participants to his home for conversation and to see his extensive pottery collection.

 Sunday Morning Talks: This year's presenters are Ulysses Dietz-curator of the Newark Museum in New Jersey, Garth Johnson-curator of the ASU Art Museum in Arizona, and Art Markman- Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas in Austin.  Sunday morning talks are dedicated to the memory of Walter and Dorothy Auman.

 After Sunday's lunch the North Carolina Pottery Center in downtown Seagrove will be open for visitors. Steven Blankenbeker will give a talk about North Carolina Clay Sunday afternoon.  The two exhibitions at the NCPC  are: Object Lessons: "Ceramics from the Gregg Museum of Art and Design," and "Wild Clay: The Story of North Carolina Clay".

 Always the first full weekend of March, this year the 2016 Conference dates are March 4-6.  Pre-registration is necessary and can be done online at the Randolph Arts Guild website.  The registration is $250.00 and includes Friday-lunch and dinner, Saturday- lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch. A Thursday evening, March 3,  reception/networking is sponsored by the Rising Sun Pottery. The NC Potters Conference is sponsored by Highwater Clays, Potters Council, and "Ceramics: Art and Perception | Technical."

 For more conference information please visit the Randolph Arts Guild website and
'Like and Follow' the North Carolina Potters Conference facebook page.

Steven Godfrey- Pottery Demonstrator- 29th annual NC Potters Conference, (image from Schaller Gallery)

Steven Godfrey is Steven Godfrey is the Assistant Professor Of Art at University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage AK. 

Sunshine Cobb- Pottery Demonstrator- 29th annual NC Potters Conference

Sunshine Cobb is a full-time studio pottery in Sacramento, California

Chris Staley - Talks Friday Evening for the 29th annual North Carolina Potters Conference

Stay tuned for the synopsis of Chris Staley's presentation.

Garth Johnson - Talks Sunday morning for the 29th annual North Carolina Potters Conference

 Garth Johnson is the curator of ceramics at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, Arizona.
Agrestic Modern
"There is a new generation of potters that make engaging, rustic work that looks to Scandinavia and the Mediterranean rather than Japan for inspiration. Agrestic Modern combines geometric simplicity with expressive, yet surprisingly austere surfaces. The artists discussed in this lecture, including Rebecca Chappell, Mike Helke, Giselle Hicks, Joseph Pintz and Jordan MacDonald give a contemporary twist to work that draws from a broad range of historical influences."

Ulysses Dietz - Talks Sunday morning for the 29th annual North Carolina Potters Conference

Ulysses Dietz is the curator of Decorative Arts at the Newark Museum since 1980.

Great Pots: art, craft, whatever
"Some pots are just pots. Some pots are art. Actually, any pot can be art if someone says it is. The Newark Museum started collecting modern pots and calling them art in 1909. My presentation grows from the idea was that a great pot was conceived of as a work of art that ordinary human beings could actually relate to and own and use to make their homes better, more beautiful places. Craftsmanship mattered. Design mattered. Nothing else mattered.
   I’ll discuss the transition from the Arts & Crafts Movement, whose core premise was to make art accessible to middle-class consumers, to that movement’s rebellious child, the Contemporary Craft Movement. This was also founded on the notion of making handcrafted objects accessible to a wide audience. My thesis is that the very existence of ceramic art in this context was geared to redefining art in a way that undermined the social and cultural pretensions of the fine art world, but that something strange happened. As potters have evolved into ceramic artists and somehow decided being “just” great potters isn’t enough, pots gradually have become just another pawn in the complex games of collecting and curatorial one-upsmanship that drives the market today."

Art Markman- Talks Sunday morning for the 29th annual North Carolina Potters Conference

Art Markman is a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas in Austin.

Increasing creativity through Smart Thinking
"Creativity is prized in the arts, and is also a critical part of success in business.  Despite its importance, few people understand the roots of creative problem solving.  In this talk, I explore the psychology of creative thinking.  I examine the development of effective habits to maximize the quality of knowledge that supports creative endeavors.  I also discuss how to overcome a fear of failure to develop new ideas.  Finally, I explore personality characteristics related to creativity and how to enhance their positive effects while minimizing their drawbacks."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 South Carolina Clay Conference

The second annual South Carolina Clay Conference will take place February 26-28 in Newberry, South Carolina (about two hours from Asheville). Visit the conference website for more information and to register:

The conference is on Facebook, too:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Citizen-Times: South Slope arts incubator seeking tenants

The Asheville Citizen-Times has an article with more information about the Asheville Area Arts Council arts incubator in the South Slope neighborhood. According to the article, "[a]rts activists are seeking tenants for a 15,000-square-foot building in the city's South Slope envisioned as a bustling arts incubator."

The article says there are 25 spaces of various sizes available with rents ranging from $120 to $1,500 per month.

Read the Citizen-Times article here:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Asheville Area Arts Council developing arts incubator in Asheville's South Slope

The Asheville Area Arts Council is using a $30,000 grant to create an arts incubator on Coxe Avenue in the South Slope neighborhood. WLOS says "the arts council has its heart set on is making the South Slope the next River Arts District or Lexington Avenue for local artists."

From WLOS:

"While Asheville is known for its craft beer, you can't forget its arts. Where there are artists there has to be space for them to work.

"'Ceramics, artists, fiber artists, print makers, dark room, and Asheville makers,' Jen Gordon, exhibitions manager for the arts council, said.

"The Asheville Area Arts Council found the opportunity to create that on Coxe Avenue with a 15,000 square foot building set to be full of studios and opportunities for local artists.

"'Having no business to developing their business to being able to grow their business and that's kind of our mission,' Gordon said. 'We have a long way to go for sure, but I think we're making good steps.'"

WLOS story here:

And more on this story from Ashvegas:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Recap: January Clay Club at Speckled Dog Pottery

A big thank you to Robbie Bell for hosting the first Clay Club of 2016! I wasn't able to be there, so a big thank you, too, to Susan Feagin (pictured here) for doing some coordinating of the Clay Club Switcheroo collaboration project. After some discussion, clubbers decided to do an exchange of bisque ware at the February meeting. So if you haven't already signed up, there is still time to do so. You can read about the Switcheroo project here and here, and I'll post more information soon.

Thanks again Robbie, Susan and everyone who came!

Speckled Dog Pottery studio before the start of Clay Club.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Toe River Arts Council joins national Arts and Economic Prosperity Study

The Toe River Arts Council will collect data in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties for the national Arts & Economic Prosperity Study.

Read more about the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study here:

Here's the press release from TRAC:

“The Arts Mean Business” is the message being delivered today by the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC), which is announcing it has just joined the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. The research study is being conducted by AFTA, the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education. It is the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.

As one of nearly 300 partners nationally, TRAC will collect detailed financial data about our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations such as our theater companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. TRAC Executive Director, Denise Cook, indicated that, “Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses but this study will confirm that the arts are a critical industry in our three county Toe River Valley area—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism and local development.”

TRAC will also collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short anonymous questionnaire that asks what they spent on meals, accommodations, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event. Surveys will be collected throughout the 2016 calendar year.

Project Liaison, Rob Heffron, stressed that, “When we support the arts in the Toe River Valley, we are making an investment in an industry, one that supports jobs and generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism.”

“Our Arts and Economic Prosperity series demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about investing in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

In June 2017, AFTA will issue a final report detailing the number of jobs and revenue that the arts and culture represent in the Toe River Valley. This specific information will be helpful in assisting individual arts organizations as they apply for grants from various governmental entities and others.

Shelly Johnston will be coordinating the project in Avery County (

For further information, please contact Project Liaison Rob Heffron at

Update: the Asheville Area Arts Council is also participating in this study:

See a complete list of Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 participants here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January Clay Club update: more about the Switcheroo/Collaboratorium AND carpooling to this month's meeting

I wanted to share some clarifications about the Clay Club Switcheroo/Collaboratium project (read what I posted earlier here: We'll talk more about this during the meeting on Wednesday, but here's something John Britt wrote that sums up the spirit of the project:

"if you can't make it and have always wanted to collaborate with someone..this is your chance...just connect with them and discuss what you want to could both collaborate on the making and glazing or split up the collaboration where one person makes it and one glazes, could use pencils or paint or glaze. There are no rules on your collaboration except post a photo for your Collaboration Show on the Blog."

So . . .

There are no rules for this project.

It's not just for functional pottery.

Don't limit your thinking just to glazing - it could be any sort of collaboration. This could - should! - be fun. It's an opportunity to experiment and see what happens and have your work publicized on the blog at the end.

If you don't have access to your own studio and/or your own kiln, we'll do our best to help you make this happen. Don't let not having your own studio keep you from participating.

I mentioned bisque ware in the earlier post. Based on the responses I've gotten so far, I'm not sure we'll be swapping bisque ware on Wednesday. If you have a piece you want to swap, feel free to bring it and we'll see how it goes.

Even if you can't make it to Clay Club this month or any month, if you're in Western North Carolina and this interests you, let me know and we'll do our best to connect you with someone.

If you want to set up your own collaboration, that's okay, too.

Conversely . . . if you can't or don't want to participate in this project but you do want to come to this month's Clay Club - please come! Projects are voluntary and all WNC potters are welcome at Clay Club meetings.

We'll also talk about ideas for Clay Club in 2016. If you have an idea but can't make it Wednesday, let me know.

Lastly, carpooling - there's been some interest in carpooling from Yancey County for this meeting, and I know there's been interest in carpooling from Asheville in the past. If this interests you, let me know and I will hook you up with other possible carpoolers.

Details for this month's Clay Club:

When: 6-8 pm tomorrow, Wednesday, January 13th

Where: Robbie Bell's Speckled Dog Pottery near Bakersville

What: Clay Club Switcheroo/Collaboratium and discussion of ideas for Clay Club in 2016

Robbie is making chili, including a vegetarian version. We will have the usual potluck to go with that, so bring food to share. Clay Club is BYOB, so bring drink, too.

Directions and more details here:

Questions? Email me at or call me at 828-467-1183.

See you Wednesday!

Monday, January 11, 2016

TRAC studio tour follow-up meeting in Spruce Pine

Mitchell and Yancey County artists: here is your opportunity to provide input on the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) studio tours! TRAC will be holding a meeting this Thursday, January 14th, at 5 pm, at the Arts Resource Center, upstairs at the TRAC gallery in Spruce Pine. All are welcome to come and participate in the discussion. From the email TRAC sent out:

We will be holding a Tour Follow Up Meeting on Thursday, January 14th at 5pm at the TRAC/ARC in Spruce Pine; all tour participants are invited. We’ll be reviewing the survey and discussing suggestions. Whether or not you were in the December tour, we invite you to share your opinions.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Price reduced on Peter Pugger Mfg. Pugger and Mixer for Sale in South Asheville


Now asking $2,400.00 OBO
VPM 20 Pugger-Mixer
110 Volts, 1 phase with rolling stand
Purchased August 2001 - used 3 times with stoneware
Purchase Price $3,829.00
Current 2015 retail price is $4,427.00
Call 828 684 9608 - leave message and please repeat your contact info twice.

(Original post here:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Center for Creative Entrepreneurship launched in downtown Asheville

UNC Asheville and the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design move forward with The Hive, a creative campus planned for downtown Asheville.

From the UNC Asheville press release:

"UNC Asheville and The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD) have partnered to launch the Center for Creative Entrepreneurship. The new center will create an all-in-one ecosystem to coalesce business resources and training programs to support student and community innovations and craft products. This initiative is supported by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, with an initial grant of $716,500.

"The three-year investment includes funding for pilot programming, operational support, and facility improvements toward the renovation of The Hive AVL, a shared regional resource center for academic institutions and the location of the Center for Creative Entrepreneurship. The project constitutes the second phase of CCCD’s redevelopment project at 67 Broadway in Asheville known as The Hive AVL."

Read the full press release here:

Some background on the creative campus, aka The Hive:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Edmund de Waal's "white road": journey into an obsession, or a pilgrimage of sorts?

The US edition of "The White Road: Journey into an Obsession," Edmund de Waal's story of his exploration of the history of porcelain, is now available. It includes the story of Josiah Wedgwood's successful search for kaolin in the Cherokee nation, which we learned from Alex Glover's Clay Club presentation about the Wedgwood Cherokee connection was likely near Franklin, North Carolina, west of Asheville.

Full disclosure: I have not read it. I came across reviews and other coverage of de Waal's book while reading about some of the earlier European porcelain experimentation, like the Medici porcelain of the late 16th century. I was interested to know if his book included that part of the porcelain story. From what I've read, it does not. Other parts of the porcelain story interest me too, but, based on some of the reviews of the book, I'm not sure I'll be in a hurry to read it, though I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has.

In the UK, the full title is, "The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts," which sounds like a more meandering read than a "journey into an obsession." De Waal talked about the different subtitles in an interview with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library:

EDMUND DE WAAL: Okay, this is really interesting, it’s lucky that there are only of two of us here talking about this because actually this is quite difficult territory here. Okay, so okay, it’s got different titles, it’s got different subtitles. So in England it’s called A Pilgrimage of Sorts.

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: And I love the “of Sorts.”

EDMUND DE WAAL: So that’s me, being English, it’s slightly self-deprecating, which is my to go to place in public, just not looking at anyone out there at all. So it’s “A Pilgrimage of Sorts.” So the history of that is it is a pilgrimage of sorts, it’s me trying to work out who I am, midlife crisis stuff, it’s really a pilgrimage to real places and to real people and it’s “of sorts,” so that’s fine. And here it’s “Journey into an Obsession,” (laughter) which is the other side of me, which is hugely focused, incredibly ambitious and scared, obsession. “Journey into an Obsession.” So there are two bits of me here, two different subtitles. Is that what you wanted me to say?

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: I didn’t want you to—the greatness of speaking with someone is I don’t want you to say anything in particular.

EDMUND DE WAAL: It’s like psychotherapy this is, then.

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: Yeah. You asked who could not be obsessed?

EDMUND DE WAAL: Yes, who could not be obsessed?

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: Who could not be obsessed by this? And it sort of reminds me of that wonderful line of Lessing, who says that “all passions, even unpleasant, are as passions pleasant.”


PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: And who, even if—

EDMUND DE WAAL: And I answer that. I say that’s a stupid rhetorical question and I start to make a list of all the people who couldn’t, who aren’t obsessed by porcelain, that’s, you know, but at the heart of the obsession with porcelain, which isn’t a footnote, it’s a real profound story about purity, about trying to make something which is totally white in the world. It’s about—it’s about scarcity, it’s about the most precious material in the world, it’s about something which has come right across the globe, and it’s about danger. You know, it’s a proper, proper area of obsession. It’s not about crockery. It’s not about crockery. It’s about something—it’s—my epigraph is “what is this thing of whiteness?” It’s Moby-Dick. “What is this thing of whiteness?” It’s a proper area of obsession. And the people have been obsessed, I kind of pick them well, you know, there are some really extraordinary people whose lives have been taken apart by this.

(The transcript of the interview is available here:

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times review of the book:

"Don’t, however, conclude from this that “The White Road” matches “The Hare With Amber Eyes” in storytelling aplomb. It is a diffuse and often tortured book, full of clouded narrative lines and vague poetical musings that strain too hard after the momentous."


This one-star review from The Telegraph is also pretty harsh:

"Gnomic questions ('What defines you? What is the sound of white?') create an illusion of depth. 'What is white?' de Waal asks, looking at the walls of his studio. 'White is the colour of mourning, because it folds all colours within it.' 'It is white," he says of a ball of clay, 'returning to white. This moment, this pause, holds a kind of grandeur.' In Russia, 'whiteness is a revolution', and the whiteness of St Petersburg porcelain 'is like the clearing of the throat'. He used to get away with statements such as 'I hear objects', but now they sound as though he were sermonising on his own sensibility. Spoilt by success, it is as if de Waal, in trying to impersonate his former voice, has produced a self-parody.


"Most of what we might learn about 17th-century porcelain is lost in this miasma of meditation. We cannot locate his sources or further our research because de Waal has provided no footnotes or bibliography, a curious omission for an author who seemed so set on the 'paying of dues to those that have gone before'."

The lack of footnotes came up in the New York Public Library interview, too:

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: And then there’s another way of writing it which is in this fragmentary style and with no footnotes, but if you want footnotes, you can go to this website, you say, “Further reading: There’s a vast literature on porcelain, its manufacture, and consumption. For a guide to those I have found most useful, with signposts towards books and articles that may prove illuminating, please see”—are you ready?—“” (laughter) That is not condescension. That is about appetite.

EDMUND DE WAAL: Okay. So if you want to look up my unbelievably learned research, there’s forty-five pages of further reading. But—

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: I know. I mean, I didn’t read it all, but I looked how long it was.

EDMUND DE WAAL: But, but, but, if you pick up a book, if you pick up a book, if you’re in a—if you pick up a book, and you see that there are forty-five pages of further reading at the end, you know, you may choose to read it, you may choose to put it back on the bookshelf. What I wanted to do was to write a book that you could read in the bath. I wanted to write a book that you actually wanted to read and not feel the swell of scholarship, you know, that actually if you want to go and look things up—

EDMUND DE WAAL: I’m so happy, I’m so happy, and you’ve given the tagline of where it is, but similarly, I didn’t want to have a book where it was just, what I hate, luckily, yes, I started the sentence and I’m going to finish it.

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: Maybe differently than you imagined you would start it.

EDMUND DE WAAL: So what I hate are books where you pick them up and you open them, and there are like twenty color plates, color photographs, in the middle, you know, and it’s just like all those images have been sucked into the middle of the book, (laughter) and they’ve all exactly got the same kind of color separation on them, and they’re all kind of glossy, and so you’ve got the text, you know, you’re reading your text, and it says, “see plate 17,” and you kind of do this and it’s a glossy photograph, and so as you will notice there are out-of-focus black-and-white photographs in this book in the manner of Sebald, because actually what this is is a book for reading.

Maybe somebody took note of the laughter from the audience, because now you can go to for some information, including a few suggested readings about South Carolina (apparently a reference to the finding of kaolin in North Carolina, which included passage through South Carolina). I'm not sure if I'm missing something, but there are not 45 pages of further reading listed there, although the porcelain literature is indeed vast. (There are two "further reading" pages on the site and one led me to an error message. This one worked for me:

The book comes off sounding like a mishmash of a navel-gazing, unedited travel journal and a half-hearted scholarly tome. De Waal (or his publisher, or whoever made the change) may be on to something with the two different subtitles.

Find "The White Road" in a library on WorldCat or see options for buying it on Google Books.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January Clay Club: Clay Club Collaboratorium at Speckled Dog Pottery near Bakersville

Happy New Year!

January Clay Club will be at Robbie Bell's Speckled Dog Pottery near Bakersville next Wednesday, January 13th, from 6-8 pm.

Our program will be Switcheroo, an idea proposed at the very first Clay Club meeting in 2008. The idea is to swap a piece of bisque ware with someone else who will glaze and fire it. Who knows how things will come out?! The completed projects will be posted in an online gallery on the Clay Club blog for the world to see.

We realize this could get a little complicated with people firing to different cones, so if you want to participate, let me know by sending me an email ( If you want to participate but can't come next week, or won't have a piece of bisque ware by then, that is okay - just let me know you want to participate and we will figure it out. (John Britt says he has a variety of glazes that folks can use if we end up with people at different cones, so don't let that stop you. Underglazes are another possibility.) Let me know what cone you usually fire to and whether you'll be able to bring a piece of bisque ware to next week's meeting. If you can't come to the meeting, let me know where in Western North Carolina you are located.

We will also talk about your ideas for Clay Club in 2016. If you can't come to the meeting, email your ideas to me before then.

I know it's sometimes hard for folks to come to Clay Club so here is an opportunity to participate even if you can't come!

If you can come, here are the rest of the details:

Robbie will make a pot of chili and a veggie one, too. To go along with that, we will have the usual potluck, so bring food to share. Clay Club is BYOB, so bring drink, too.


Robbie says DON'T USE GPS - follow these directions instead:

How to find the Speckled Dog (Google it... or...) ..... From the red light in Bakersville, head east on Mitchell Ave/Cane Creek Road for 3.2 miles. Pass the first entrance to Sandy Branch (Church on corner) and head to the second entrance of Sandy Branch. Turn left onto Sandy Branch and the left again at the first paved driveway. Go to the top of the hill. You will see Speckled Dog Pottery signs at Sandy Branch.

Parking .... There is limited parking at the top of the hill. You may park along Sandy Branch and walk up the gentle sloping drive.

The Speckled Dog Pottery
1454 Sandy Branch Road
Bakersville, North Carolina 28705

(828) 688-1664
(828) 434-0353 - cell