Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wood Day 2014

David Finck

Tom Gow

Ed Lampert

Marlow Gates showing a visitor hands on broom making techniques.

Carolina Mountain Woodturners hands on demo
Wood Day 2014 which took place on August 9 was one of those perfect days at the Folk Art Center. There were hundreds of people - making their way through Allanstand Craft Shop, the exhibitions on the second level and, of course, through the auditorium to see the Wood Day artists. Jeff Neil, a box maker from Gray TN, said the only thing bad about Wood Day is that all the people demonstrating wish they could walk around and visit and learn from all the other craftspeople there that day. We were happy to see returning craftspeople along with new artists like Ed Lampert who juried into the Guild last  year. Ed took home the First Place Award in the Carve Off Competition.

The Carolina Mountain Woodturners were busy all day as they instructed visitors how to make a honey dipper on a mini-lathe. Sandra Rowland hosted a hands-on table where folks could construct a a landscape or abstract sculpture using wood scrapes - many of which were donated by Buzz Coren who creates beautiful, one of a kind laminated wood bowls. Sandra has been participated in Guild special events at the Folk Art Center. She said that in the past her activity table was mostly occupied by children, but in recent years she has found that all ages want to share in the fun and it has become much more multi-generational.

Thanks to everyone who made the day a success. Be sure to join us next month for Heritage Weekend, September 20 - 21, 2014.       

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Artist Profile: Zan Barnes

One of the perks of working at the Folk Art Center is having the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of artists as they demonstrate. Last week we had the pleasure of getting to know new member Zan Barnes. She may be a new member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild but she is certainly not new to the world of fine crafts. You can learn more about Zan from her artist statement below and be sure to visit her at the July edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.
Zan Barnes Artist Statement
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in my father’s pottery studio.  I was lucky to be immersed in a thriving community of craftsmen who worked in a wide variety of materials and techniques.  My father made every dish I ate off of growing up, his best friend made the stained glass window in our living room and the lamp over our dining room table.  Another friend made our bathroom sink, and we collected onion skins for another who specialized in natural dyeing.  We personally knew the artist of each and every piece on our walls.  This rich community of craftsmen greatly shaped how I have come to approach my own work. 
Pottery is very much about the physical interaction with the ceramic object, the balance of a piece in the hand, subtle texture over the surface and how the hand will find and experience these areas in a very direct way.  Through my graduate studies I have transitioned into solely soda fired surfaces as I am fascinated by the vapor surface and the lack of complete control I have over the finished surface.  This innate mark making that the kiln creates has led me to a very organic collaboration with the kiln itself.  I focus on clean forms with edges that provide a blank canvas for my stamping and for the vapor to flash across and interact with.  I am interested in how the regimented linear geometric patterns and the repetition of my stamps contrast with and accentuate the curves of the thrown form as well as the organic shapes left by the caress of the soda vapor.  My stamped patterns are built from a single small triangular element.  My goal in the repetition of this single element is for the individual stamp to disappear into the larger rhythms of the pattern.  Each element is individually stamped so that the pattern can stretch and articulate around the curves of any form.  Though the stamping itself is the dominant decorative element, I am also delighted by the negative space created by offsetting the patterning so it locks together and creates a dynamic parallel of the pattern in the negative space between rows.  My stamps are hand carved from clay and bisque fired so I can rapidly carve new variations and experiment with how the scale and motif affect the overall design of the vessel.  These areas of stamping are delineated and framed by a linear element on one side and a solid black saddle on the other.  The linear marking on the surface is loosely mirror imaged on the opposite facing side of the pot creating a distinct left and right side to each piece.  Due to the rather deep impressions I create with the physical act of stamping the inside surface of the vessel bears an echo of the patterning on the exterior.  The glaze palate I now use accentuates and breaks across these markings on the interior.  I use a solely matt glaze palate as the introduction of soda creates glossy areas and beautiful fading between the two surface qualities.  I favor a cool color palate ad a contrast to the warm earthy surface that the flashing slip surface provides so there is always a distinct transition between the glazed and unglazed surfaces.

A mug sitting on a clean white pedestal is a dead thing to me.  Pottery was never the untouched piece on the top shelf of the china cabinet; it was the much loved mug that you dig for every morning because the coffee just tastes better out of that specific one.  I strive for my work to have that same immediacy of being handled or interacted with every day of the owner’s life.  My greatest wish is for each piece to invite the viewer to pick it up, touch it, feel it, see how it fits in the hand, converse with it on the most intimate level, skin to skin. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Remembering Thomas Case of Pisgah Forest Pottery by Rodney Leftwich

Thomas Case (1929 - 2014)

With the passing of Thomas Case April 29, 2014 the world has lost a 110 year potting legacy and tradition. Tom was the son of the late Roy and Katherine Case of Arden, NC. Born November 12, 1929, Tom lived his entire life in the house where he was born. Luckily for pottery enthusiasts and historians, this was on the property of his grandfather Walter B. Stephen. Stephen had begun pottery work in 1904 and by Tom's birth was operating his third pottery, Pisgah Forest.

From an early age Tom assisted his grandfather with all aspects of hte pottery business. Preparing clays, cutting wood for the large bottle kiln, mixing glazes, and shaping wares at the potters wheel were part of his activities.

During the early 1950s Tom Case and Grady Ledbetter became partners at Pisgah Forest. By their arrangement, Grady turned the majority of the pottery to which Tom added handles and spouts. Most of Stephen's traditional glazes were continued. To these Tom added a new yellow, speckled brown, and dark forest green. The usual pink interiors were replaced with white or yellow.

New forms created by Tom included candlesticks with twisted rope handles, cut out candle lanterns, and over0sized "mother-in-law" mugs. Functional wares were preferred and many vases, teapots, pitchers, sugar and cream sets, soup bowls, and mugs were produced. However, during hte 1950s, Tom also created art pottery decorated with square dancers and musicians.

Much credit is due Tom and his wife Dorothy Case. Without their assistance the book Nonconnah and Pisgah Forest - The Potteries of Walter B. Stephen could not have been written.

In addition to a lifetime of pottery making, Tom was active in his community. He also worked with Ecusta Paper and the Olin Corporation. He was one of the founding organizers of the Skyland Fire Department and was a former member of the Avery's Creek Lions Club. He was a member of the Skyland United Methodist Church, the West Asheville Masonic Lodge, and the Southern Highland Craft Guild where he was honored with a Lifetime Membership Award.

A man of great character and a true friend, may Tom be making pots in Heaven.

Rodney Leftwich, May 2014    

Pisgah Forest Pottery
Pisgah Forest Pottery, 1946
Photos courtesy of Rodney Leftwich

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Haywood Graduate Show Reception

Celebrating the Class of 2014  

Brian Wurst and Robert Blanton, HCC instructors

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the Class of 2014 of Haywood Community College Professional Crafts Department. The Graduate Show is on display now in the Folk Art Center Main Gallery and a reception was held Saturday afternoon. Friends, family, staff, alumni, and many other craft advocates gathered to see the show and visit with the artists. Robert Blanton addressed the crowd congratulating the seniors and thanking members of the community for attending. He also referenced the connection between the college and Southern Highland Craft Guild, noting that it is an educational center member of the Guild and that many Haywood graduates (and instructors) are artist members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The show will be in the Folk Art Center Main Gallery through September 14.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fiber Weekend 2014

Robin Ford, batik printing
The View from Dede Styles' Spinning Wheel

Operation Colorstorm Yarn Bombing Installation 
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Folk Art Center during Fiber Weekend to celebrate textile arts. The fiber community is an amazing group of talented folks who love to make art and share what they love whether it be knitting, spinning, embroidery or mixed media fiber arts. The Guild is grateful to host such a wonderful group. We know that the visitors enjoyed the experience.

On Sunday Liz Spear curated another incredible Fashion Show of Wearable Art. The show featured the work of 38 Southern Highland Craft Guild members and five students from the Haywood Community College Professional Craft Department. Diana Gates photographed the event - to see the images visit the Folk Art Center Facebook Page.   

Liz Spear, Emcee Extraordinaire

It was great to see Jimmie Benedict in Asheville AND in the Fashion Show!

Our next special event at the Folk Art Center is Clay Day on June 7. Come on out and celebrate ceramic arts with us!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From the Archives: Douglas James Ferguson

Douglas James Ferguson was born in Possom Trot, Yancey County, NC in 1912.  He received a degree in Art Design Studies from Mars Hill College.  From 1935 to 1947 he worked in the Ceramic Research Laboratory for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Norris, TN, where he acquired an interest in pottery experimenting with local clays.  In 1946 he started Pigeon Forge Pottery in an old tobacco barn with Ernest Wilson who was his colleague at the Ceramic Research Laboratory.

The Great Smoky Mountains inspired Ferguson's ceramics and he created bears, owls, raccoons and chipmunks as well as a functional line of vases, bowls, tumblers and other dishware.  He employed up to 18 local people in his studio and shop which was one of the first in the area to present high quality ware.  In 1995 he published Spirit of the Black Bear, a catalog to accompany his trademark glazed black bears.  It featured the rotund small whimsical creatures in various poses:  rolling, standing, walking.  Ferguson reproduced butter mold prints in clay:  wheat, snowflake, dandelion and the oak leaf.  Inspired by the content of local mud dauber nests he used red and gray clay found in Pigeon Forge.  Initially he utilized a mule at his pug mill to attract visitors.  He formulated many of his own glazes including a crystalline and crater glaze.  In 1957 he created the Clingdom Dome tea set which the state of Tennessee presented to Queen Elizabeth.  In that same year a major fire closed his business until he could rebuild.

Ferguson became a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild in 1948 and remained active until 1998, receiving Life Membership in 1991.  He credited the Guild with "making the local people more aware of their potential, and giving the public a view of something they were more or less not aware of."  He won the Western North Carolina University Mountain Heritage Award in 1982 where his work was described as "spiritual" and they credited him with creating "in sculpture, pottery, and tile the life of our mountainland."  He earned two awards from the Tennessee Arts and Crafts Festival in Nashville.  He received the Rotary Certificate of Distinguished Service.  He was featured in books on Appalachian craftspeople by Bernice Stevens, Edward Dupuy and Helen Bullard.  In the fall of 1952, Ferguson attended a ceramics symposium by international artists at Black Mountain College.  Through worldwide travel, Ferguson studied ceramic techniques in Great Britain, Europe, Asia, and Egypt.

Ferguson participated in the American Craft Council and the Ceramic National exhibitions in 1963.  He served as President of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.  He was also a member of the Gatlinburg Rotary Club, assisted with the Gatlinburg and Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, and served on the Board of the East Tennessee Automobile Association.

In the 1970s - 80s Ferguson created a fountain with traditional Appalachian quilting designs at Mars Hill College, his alma mater, as well as a heritage wall mural in Blackwell Hall, the Four Seasons Mural, and the College Seal.  Ferguson died in 1999.  Pigeon Forge Pottery was closed in 2000. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Guild Artist Profile: Joan Berner

Isn't it incredible how a chance encounter can influence life's direction? 

Several years ago while visiting the Folk Art Center and considering a move to western North Carolina, Joan Berner met Liz Spear.  Liz Spear was weaving in the Folk Art Center lobby.  Through their conversation Liz shared with Joan what a wonderful professional crafts program Haywood Community College in Waynesville has.  Fast forward a few years and you will find Joan Berner, a recent graduate of Haywood, demonstrating felting in the Folk Art Center lobby as a new member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

After retiring from work as an environmental engineer in Rochester, NY, Joan Berner moved to Hendersonville, NC.  All her life Joan has enjoyed textile arts.  After moving to the area she enrolled at Haywood and graduated from their Professional Crafts Department.  She credits her education there with taking her love and skills as a dyer, weaver, and felter from personal interest to vocation.  She praises the fiber department as well as the business department in preparing her for making it as an artist.  She juried into the Southern Highland Craft Guild in 2012 and looks forward to participating in the July and October Craft Fairs of the Southern Highlands this year.  She also sells her work at Desert Moon Studios in the River Arts District of Asheville and enjoys teaching on occasion.

While demonstrating wet felting at the Folk Art Center recently, Joan shared with visitors the various processes of the craft including: lay out (forming the three layer material of wool batt, hand laid wool, and silk), wet out, roll, throw and full.  The process known as nuno felting was fascinating to watch as each element was "laminated" to form a new vibrant material.  Joan uses the material in her fiber wearables, combining it with her own woven, hand-dyed cloth.

Lay out

Wet out

 Roll (and roll, and roll, and roll...)



Material Joan created while demonstrating at the Folk Art Center

A sample of felt hats made by Joan

Fiber wearables made by Joan