The Western North Carolina Pottery Festival offers an up-close opportunity to watch master potters ply their trade on Saturday, Nov. 2.
More than 40 highly-skilled ceramic artists will be throwing pots and demonstrating their techniques from booths located along Front Street in this friendly walk-about mountain village.
Now in its ninth year, the festival remains true to its original mission of allowing the public to interact with potters and learn more about their craft.
“Our goal has always been to educate the public on the different processes and techniques in clay. We encourage people to ask lots of questions and to interact with all the artists,” said festival organizer Travis Berning of Tree House Pottery in Dillsboro.
This year’s lineup features potters from 15 states. Berning said about one-third of the 45 artists are new to the fest, which keeps things fresh for attendees. Included in that group of first-timers is featured artist Gertrude “Gay” Smith of Bakersville, N.C.
Smith is a cum laude graduate of Harvard who specializes in single-firing porcelain ware in a soda kiln. She has taught ceramics at her alma mater, as well as at Penland School of Crafts and Scotland’s Findhorn Foundation. Her work is exhibited in such notable galleries as the Mint Museum, Charlotte, N.C.; Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, La.; and the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan.
“I think this is the strongest group of artists we've had,” Berning said. “Their work ranges from functional to sculptural, from low fire to high fire, from wood to salt-fired. What makes clay so unique is that it’s almost limitless what you can do with it. We’re pleased to showcase such a wide variety to the public.”
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. All festival attendees receive a ticket for a day-long raffle, while a silent auction benefits a local charity that provides meals to needy families.
For those wishing to make a weekend of it, a preliminary event takes place Friday. The fifth annual WNC Clay Olympics competition runs from 1-5 p.m. It pits 20 potters against one another to see who can make the largest cylinder, widest bowl, etc.
Admission to Saturday’s festival $3 per person, with children under 12 admitted free.
For festival info, call (828)631-5100, or visit: www.wncpotteryfestival.com. For lodging info, call the Jackson County Visitors Center at (800)962-1911.