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Local artist provides educational and historical experience at NC Pottery Center

Posted on 07/10/09

Contact: Susan Greene

Seagrove, NC - Once again the North Carolina Pottery Center is opening its doors and grounds for the education and benefit of the public. On Saturday July 18th, David Garner of Turn & Burn Pottery will be firing the groundhog kiln on the pottery center grounds. The firing of the groundhog kiln takes approximately 15 hours and uses 2 cords of wood. The groundhog kiln will be loaded with over 200 pieces of Webster reproduction pots which will be featured during the North Carolina Pottery Centers' Artists' Reception, Friday August 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The exhibit will feature Historical Pottery of Fayetteville, NC - Highlighting 19th Century Webster & E. A. Poe Pottery.

David, a well-known potter in the Seagrove community, and his wife Deborah were chosen to be featured in the upcoming exhibition of Webster and E.A. Poe because of their knowledge and expertise of Webster pottery. David and Deborah have been producing Webster reproduction pots since 1985.

The Webster brothers (Edward, Chester and Timothy) produced pottery at Robbins & Co. in Fayetteville, the first commercial Stoneware factory in NC. Their style of pottery was unique among the early examples of NC salt glazed with its charmingly incised etchings; including birds and fish with cobalt decorations -techniques brought from their Connecticut backgrounds in stoneware production at Goodwin & Webster in Hartford. This was the early 1800s when the majority of North Carolina potters were producing lower -fired redware pots. The brothers eventually moved to Randolph County, settling in the Coleridge area, with Edward soon moving on to South Carolina.

David became interested in the Webster School of folk pottery when he learned of the family connection to the Craven family. Chester Webster came to Randolph County and turned for Solomon Craven, the grandson of Peter Craven, and later for his son Bartlett Yancey (B.Y.) Craven. David's grandmother Zedith Teague Garner was the daughter of Brian "Ducky" Dewey Teague and Bessie Lee Craven Teague (granddaughter of J.D. Craven).

David is one of the most humble and unassuming potters of the Seagrove area, but one who constantly and tirelessly promotes the area through education. Last year he was the recipient of two impressive awards. Each October, for the past 20 years, David and family represent themselves and Seagrove at the, "Village of Yesteryear" at the State Fair in Raleigh. Last year he was awarded, by nomination of 100 of his peers, to receive the "Craftsman of the Year" from the Village of Yesteryear. The Board of the North Carolina Art Education Association (NCAEA) chose to recognize and congratulate David last year as one of the "Art Stars", exemplary art educators and advocates in their fields and commemorated his accomplishments during the NCAEA Professional Development Conference. David also serves his community as a member of the Seagrove City Council. He continually volunteers at schools throughout the area while providing prison ministry with his wife, Debora, statewide.

Walking into David's shop to view the many Webster reproduction pieces (runlets, jugs of all sizes, pitchers, jars and more) in various stages of development is a visual treat. David turns and Deborah carves. She uses no tracing; it is all done freehand and replicates the Webster school style with the hinge under the handle and many of the incised motifs, with the cobalt on woodfired salt glazed pots. Deborah's favorite etchings are the birds and fish. Twenty years ago, when Turn & Burn was one of the few shops producing traditional shapes with salt glaze, a Webster collector walked in and suggested they try their hand at doing some reproductions. Some twenty years later they are still at it in addition to the many other styles they produce. There is just something really special about carrying on a technique that had such a significant historical impact on pottery making in the Seagrove community.

Please come out to the NCPC on Saturday, July 18th all day to meet the artists and see how the process was done over 200 years ago and continues today. Then come back Friday, August 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 for the Artist's reception where the historical Webster and E.A. Poe pots will be on display and the pots that were fired on the 18th will be available for purchase. Both events are free and open to the public.

Opened in 1998 in Seagrove, the NCPC mission is to promote public awareness of North Carolina's remarkable pottery heritage. The Center welcomes and informs visitors to the Seagrove area, enriching their experience through exhibitions and educational programs, while promoting potters working across the state. The NCPC is a private nonprofit entity, funded primarily through memberships, grants, admissions, and appropriations.

OPEN: Tuesdays - Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00, ADMISSION (excluding free special events): $2 - adults, $1 - students 9th through 12th grades, Free - children through 8th grade, free - NCPC members. Handicap accessible. Groups and tours welcomed. For further information and details call 336- 873-8430, email: [email protected] or visit www.NCPotteryCenter.com.

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