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Chad Brown, 5th Generation Potter, Fires Groundhog Kiln

Posted on 03/13/12

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 March 17, Seagrove potter Chad Brown will be firing the groundhog kiln on the pottery center lawn. The firing of the groundhog kiln takes approximately 15 hours and uses 2 cords of wood.

Chad Brown is a 5th generation potter; his great-great grandfather was William Henry Chriscoe, whose original log cabin studio resides in the Smithsonian Museum. Chad is an up-and-coming potter to watch on the Seagrove scene. Chad's grandpa, Graham Chriscoe opened his pottery shop when Chad was around 9. He absorbed a great deal from working with his grandparents. He learned his technical skills in the more traditional Seagrove fashion, working for years as a production potter for many studios. "You make two or three hundred of the same shape and you get pretty good at it." He expanded his skills by working as a journeyman potter, traveling from studio to studio and turning the various shapes required.

Chad has participated in numerous wood firings with various potters including Sid Luck, Terry Hunt, David Stuempfle, Mark Hewitt and Donna Craven. "Some of my favorite shapes to make are the same that my great-great grandfather made. I really like the straight sided whiskey jugs. They made them stand up straight so they could pack more into the wagons. I like the idea of that. I like making big jars. I coil build them. I'm mostly a shape person, form comes before surface. I look at the line of a pot; to me colors and surface, that's secondary."

Four years ago Chad began to participate in shows and exhibits while continuing to work as a journeyman potter. "I started to realize that I couldn't advance further, not enough time. I'd improve then fall back. You get onto a thought and need to stay with it; production pottery was breaking that concentration. I just felt I wasn't getting as good as I could be." Chad's decision to pursue his own pottery full-time was rewarded when he received the "The Award of Excellence" at The Arts in the Park show in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Chad is building a new kiln on his property this year, which will be his own design taking into consideration ideas and information from his firings with other potters and their kilns. Firing the traditional Groundhog Kiln at the North Carolina Pottery Center is not an entirely new experience for Chad. He has helped others in the past but wants to be completely in charge to absorb the complete learning experience of the process and to see what his firing results produce in the kiln. He will then be able to contrast and compare the end product. The pots will be sold at the upcoming Catawba Valley Pottery & Antique show in Hickory, March 23rd & 24th and will also be on display at upcoming exhibits at American Folk in Asheville and the Campbell House/Moore Arts Council in Southern Pines. The public is welcome to come out to the NCPC on Saturday, March 17th to view the firing and see how the process was done over 200 years ago and still continues today.

Chad demonstrates for the public on Saturdays at the North Carolina Pottery Center and teaches Seagrove Elementary Students with Sid Luck in the Traditional Arts Programs in Schools (TAPS) held at the Center. Mark Hewitt, VP of the Center remarked, "Chad Brown has quietly established his presence as one of the most talented younger potters in Seagrove. We all enjoy Chad's humor and good nature, and know how much he contributes to the NCPC with his patient, insightful demonstrations and his warm, generous personality. His beautiful pots reflect who he is."

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, and promoting potters working today 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.org.

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