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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Potter's Eye by Mark Hewitt and Nancy Sweezy

The Potter's Eye: Art & Tradition in North Carolina Pottery by Mark Hewitt and Nancy Sweezy. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Published for the North Carolina Museum of Art by the University of North Carolina Press, 2005. ISBN: 0-8078-2992-7

A beautiful coffee-table picture book for anyone who loves stoneware pottery. The book's main focus is on the salt and ash glaze pottery of 19th century North Carolina, and features the simple, relatively unadorned jugs and jars that make up that tradition. The book documents an exhibition held at the North Carolina Museum of Art between Oct. 20, 2005 and March 19, 2006.

In addition to its primary theme, the book and exhibition also featured antecedently related pots from other areas or eras, 14-16th century Japan, 16-18th century Germany, England, New England, and elsewhere, and concludes with a selection from those carrying on the tradition today.

One of the primary decorative themes seems to be glazes applied to the top of a jar so that just a few drips run down during the firing, creating an artistically random element to the design. Some potters apparently would place piece of glass on the pot, so that it would melt during firing and create a special effect.

Several pots by Dave Drake, frequently (and unfortunately, according to the author) known as “Dave, the slave” are included. He sometimes wrote brief poems on his pots, such as this one: “I made this jar all of a cross / if you don't repent you will be lost.”

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys beautiful hand-made pottery.

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