Potters throw for fun at Townsend Pottery Festival

Parents who bring their children to the Second Annual Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival should just be prepared: The youngsters will probably get messy before the day is over.

It will all be in good fun, with a bit of education thrown in, and moms and dads can thank the folks at the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We will have a special tent for children to let them get their hands in the clay and see what pottery is all about,” said Herb Handly, vice president of the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Handly said there would also be a wheel where the young aspiring potters can actually ‘throw’ a pot. “That ought to be fun for kids,” he said.

The event will begin on Friday, June 5, and go through Saturday, June 6. “We think this is one of our premier events that is growing by leaps and bounds. We’ll have somewhere between 38 and 39 artists and potters,” Handly said.

Handly said the potters come from several states, but there also will be a number of local potters. “They will be displaying and selling unique and one-of-a-kind pottery pieces that are all hand-thrown. They come in a lot of different styles and sizes and makes,” he said.

The potters will exhibit, demonstrate and sell their crafts at the Townsend Visitor’s Center from 12 to 7 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

As a sanctioned event of the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Pottery Festival will showcase the fine pottery available in East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountain area, as well as educate attendees about the art of pottery.

The Blount County Chamber of Commerce and the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau host the free event. The event includes 40 potters’ booths with demonstrations of wheel throwing, hand building and Raku firing, as well as an educational children’s tent, special presentations, food booths and music.

Featured potters are Peter Rose of Knoxville and Melissa Maney of Cherokee, N.C. Hugh Bailey, a potter with more than 50 years experience who makes unique animals and fanciful creatures, and Joe Frank McKee of Treehouse Pottery in Dillsboro, N.C., will also be at the festival to showcase their work.

Carol Ware, of Maryville will lead activities in the children’s tent, where young people and families can learn how to work with clay.

“The Smoky Mountains are full of historic, cultural and artistic elements that make any time spent in the area an eye opening, educational and entertaining experience. With events like the pottery festival, we are trying to share the rich artistic elements our area has to offer,” Handly said. “The event will be fun, family-friendly, and educational, and visitors can meet award-winning artisans, and take home beautiful, one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pottery.”

Growing up in the Yellowhill community on the Qualla Boundary, Maney, one of the featured potters, learned the traditional Cherokee method of making pottery at home. At the festival, she will demonstrate traditional Cherokee pottery making techniques. Maney has taught pottery classes at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the Cherokee Youth Center and several Cherokee communities. She has exhibited her work at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and has pottery in the McKissick Museum in Columbia, S.C.

Rose, a native of Australia, has been a potter for more than 30 years, and he has studied pottery skills around the world. His gallery and wood-fired kiln, Potters Pond, has been located in Knoxville since 1985. Rose teaches workshops around the country and is an artist in resident for numerous local schools, including the Community School of the Arts in Knoxville and the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Rose has also established a craft cooperative in Kenya for women with HIV, and he is a past president of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, as well as a member of the Foothills Craft Guild and Piedmont Craftsmen.

“This pottery festival is an important event for East Tennessee because it is an opportunity for the people and students in East Tennessee to learn about pottery, its history and traditions,” said Rose. “There is a tremendous amount of talent in our region, and this festival brings everyone together in one location to share their techniques and skills, as well as showcase their artwork.”

Additionally, Danny Bigay and Kay Littlejohn will be presenting a Cherokee Program at 6 p.m. Friday, June 5. At the program, visitors can experience Native American flute music, played on flutes made by Bigay, and hear Cherokee and other stories told by Littlejohn.

The festival is made possible in part by a grant from Arts Build Communities, a program funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and administered in cooperation with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville. The festival is sponsored by Highwater Clays, Highland Manor Inn, Byron’s Printing and the Townsend IGA.

The event will be held at the Townsend Visitors Center, located at 7906 East Lamar

Alexander Parkway. For more information about the Pottery Festival, call the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at 1-800-525-6834 or 865-448-6134 or visit www.smokymountains.org/pottery-festival.html.

Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival Schedule of Events

Friday, June 5:

•12 to 7 p.m.: Pottery booths open, wheel-throwing demonstrations taking place (check posted schedule), Hugh Bailey’s booth, food vendors open.

•1 to 6 p.m.: Peter Rose’s Raku Firings, out front: purchase a pot to glaze and fire.

•1 to 6 p.m.: JoeFrank McKee’s Raku and Horsehair Firing Demonstrations, in the Pavilion.

•1 to 6 p.m.: Melissa Maney’s Cherokee Pottery Demonstrations, in the Pavilion

•3 to 7 p.m.: Children’s Tent open.

•6 to 7 p.m.: Cherokee Music Program with Danny Bigay and Kay Littlejohn, Bring your lawn chairs.

Saturday, June 6:

•9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Pottery booths open, wheel-throwing demonstrations taking place (check posted schedule), Hugh Bailey’s booth, food vendors open, music performances at various times.

•10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Peter Rose’s Raku Firings, out front: Purchase a pot to glaze and fire.

•10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: JoeFrank McKee’s Raku and Horsehair Firing Demonstrations, in the Pavilion.

•10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Melissa Maney’s Cherokee Pottery Demonstrations, in the Pavilion.

•10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Children’s Tent open.

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