Artisans show their skills at 2011 Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival

John Fulwood demonstrates his technique at the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival in Townsend as the vase he is creating takes shape.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

John Fulwood demonstrates his technique at the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival in Townsend as the vase he is creating takes shape.

Townsend was “turning” with activity earlier this month when the annual Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival was held at the Townsend Visitors Center.

Jeanie Hilten, special events coordinator with the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the two-day affair on June 3 and 4 was eventful. “It was wonderful. We had talented potters with a whole array of wonderful work and a lot of hands-on activities, so it was very educational,” she said. “We had demonstrations of Raku and horsehair firing. All the potters were superb artisans.”

Hilten said folks came out in spite of the high temperatures to see quality work by accomplished artisans. “We had a good turnout, especially considering the heat.”

For the first time, the festival activities also were held in Knoxville as part of the First Friday Night Art Walk activities in downtown Knoxville. The potters were honored guests at the Museum of East Tennessee History with an exhibit was called “Tennessee Turned.” The evening featured Hugh Bailey and Carol Ware.

“Hugh Bailey and Carol Ware were in front of musicians making pots,” said Hilten. “It was wonderful as they hand-built sculptured animals in front of the crowds.”

Hilten said that in the 1800s, creating pottery was a very vibrant activity in East Tennessee. “Now our potters at the festival in 2011 are bringing that back, showing all wonderful styles they used back in the 1800s,” she said.

Hilten thanked everyone who made the event possible. “We had great sponsors, financial donors and those who donated clay, and our volunteers were wonderful,” she said. “We couldn’t do any festival without our community support and volunteers.”

Hilten said annual event is important because it also helps local artisans.

“We want to highlight how important pottery is in this region,” she said. “We appreciate people coming out and buying pottery directly from the artisans rather than buying something mass produced. People really appreciate being able to get pottery from a skilled person they know.”

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