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Phil Morgan | Phil Morgan Pottery
Phil Morgan | Phil Morgan Pottery
Q: What type of pottery do you create?
I create two main types of pottery - salt glazed and crystalline pottery.
Q: What is the salt glaze process?
The salt glaze process started about 250 years ago in Germany when a potter used some wood that was from a fish factory. The short version of the story is the potter needed some wood and a person at the fish factory offered him the wood barrels that they no longer needed at the factory. Because the fish was brined in salt when the potter fired up his kiln the pieces came out with a special texture to them kind of like an orange peel. He liked the effect so he kept doing it and later others followed his process. In the 1920s and 30s, this process was used a lot around here to make water jugs and moonshine jugs. Over time rather than needing to use the jugs for utilitarian purposes, people started collecting them for their artistic characteristics.
Q: What about the crystalline process, how is that different?
The salt glaze is made from stoneware and the crystalline is made from porcelain. The crystalline pottery first started around 600 AD as an oriental art form. It’s the art of making crystals in the glaze. You create a snowflake using zinc oxide in the glaze while it’s in the liquid form at around 2000 plus degrees. You blend the glaze to melt into the glass while the clay vitrifies.
Q: How did you become a potter? What’s your background?
I grew up about six miles from my shop in Seagrove. I was drafted after high school but luckily was sent to Korea rather than Vietnam in 1967. When I came back, I finished my business degree and put on a suit and tie to head back to work. After about six months I knew I wasn’t a suit and tie kind of guy. Back then there were trade schools or technical institutes to help people get into different professions. I was on my way to check out auto-body and gunsmith demonstrations and along the way, I walked by a pottery shop. Once I saw what they were doing I was immediately hooked. I loved everything about it and knew that was it for me.
Q: How is your process different than other potters that make pottery salt glazed and crystalline pottery, or is it the same?
I make all of my own porcelain and glazes by hand. I do not use store bought glazes and I don’t use technology to try to perfect my craft. I take pride in doing my art a specific way.
Q: What are you most proud of in your art?
In the 1980s, the Smithsonian bought several pieces of mine for their museum, and various North Carolina Governors have purchased my art to gift to five different presidents and prime ministers around the world. I’ve been written about hundreds of times in different newspapers and magazines. The thing I’m proudest about though is just the fact that I’m still here and that I’m doing my art the same way I've done it for 40 years. I’m proud that I still make all of my pieces the way I did way back then. A lot of other potters now depend on technology to create the crystals in their pottery, but I make mine old-fashioned way. I also pride myself on not selling "seconds" to anyone. I’m proud of my reputation and I’m happy there is very little aftermarket pieces of mine - that means a lot to me. I treasure my collectors whether they have two of 200 of my pieces.
Q: How do you feel about having so many potters in the area?
I think it’s great! We all work together and there’s really only one good place to come for pottery lovers and the variety that we have...and that's Seagrove!