With a continuous pottery-making tradition going back to the 18th century and 100 small family-run studios to visit, the town of Seagrove and the counties surrounding it are the unparalleled center of North Carolina pottery. Its Piedmont location, 90 minutes or less from most of the big cities in N.C., makes it an easy day trip that includes not only the opportunity to observe potters at work but also to buy their wares.
For an overview of the area, begin your visit with a stop at the N.C. Pottery Center. Here you’ll find a historical exhibition of N.C. pottery beginning with utilitarian wares from the area’s earliest residents to modern day decorative pottery from contemporary craft artists. The center has examples of the wide variety of pottery made throughout Seagrove today, as well as maps to guide you to studios of interest. The center also sponsors a Traditional Arts Program in Schools (TAPS) to teach students, and offers lectures, workshops and other public programs related to pottery-making traditions in the state.
Visiting a local pottery studio can be more than a shopping trip. Potters are happy to let you watch them at work and to engage in a conversation about their family history, the hard work of digging clay, grinding glazes or firing a kiln, or how to start a pottery collection. They might even turn a pot in a traditional shape for you. With the exception of special events, many area potteries are closed on Sundays, so plan your visit on a Saturday or weekday for the greatest range of choices.
If you’d prefer less driving and a more intense experience of Seagrove area potters outside of their studios, two major annual events — both on the weekend preceding Thanksgiving — bring large numbers of potters together for demonstrations, conversations and sales: the Seagrove Pottery Festival, a tradition for more than 30 years, and the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, established in 2008. And throughout the year at a variety of times, potters advertise kiln openings that give customers a first chance at buying their latest wares. Visit a pottery that captures your interest, or visit its website to get on its mailing list.
For additional resources, maps and lists of local potters, visit the Museum of N.C. Traditional Pottery and the Seagrove Area Potters Association.
Museums In A Minute: NC Pottery Center
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