Sunday, June 27, 2010

Humble Mill Pottery in Seagrove, NC

One of the great things about Seagrove, NC is the variety of styles. I've chosen to highlight two of my favorite studio visits, but don't think these studios represent all of Seagrove. The variety of styles means there's something for everybody!

I admit to getting my hopes up as soon as we pulled into the gravel driveway going up to Humble Mill Pottery. A black and white cat lazed in dappled shadows while a woman in a straw hat puttered in the flower garden. The old, yellow house seemed to sag in all the right places and I liked the hollow, tromping noise our feet made as we walked across the wooden porch. The screen door slapped shut behind us and we made our way into the showroom.

I instantly loved everything I saw. A wheezing window unit blew a cool breeze mixed with the scent of fresh flowers and I felt like I was in the set design tent of a Merchant-Ivory film or the back of an April Cornell shop. Charlotte Wooten, the primary potter, spent several years living and working in Japan, and it flickers through in several of her themes and overall style.

Humble 2

Her website offers a nice explanation of the type of pottery she makes: "Charlotte's work reminds many people of majolica or faience. While similar in spirit, those styles are usually low-temperature earthenware with decoration painted on top of a white glaze. The difference is that Humble Mill Pottery starts on a harder, dark clay body; white slip is painted onto the body. Decoration is painted onto the slip, and then each piece is dipped into a clear glaze and fired. It is durable and long-lasting tableware. The pieces have a good vitreous ring to them, are food safe, and can go into the microwave and dishwasher."

I really enjoyed the hand-painted style to her designs and was pleased when she came through the screen door and told us to feel free to explore her workshop in an adjoining room. I loved that it felt like she'd camped out in a historical home's living room to do her work. It seemed unusual and appropriate at the same time. From the wicker couch by the fireplace to the corner cabinet filled with unpainted projects, this was a lovely space. There's something special about walking into a workshop. Have you ever noticed that? Her workshop felt very of-the-moment, with brushes lying out and a half-finished project on the stand -so inspiring!

Humble 1

I went back out into the entryway where a set of dark painted stairs rose to the second floor. Old books were stacked against the wall going up the staircase, inviting me to take a seat and have a read. When I commented to the owner about her beautiful work and setting, she smiled, pleased, and said, "When I saw this house I knew it would be perfect for me! When I brought all my things in, all my furniture, it just fit. It all perfectly fit, like it was meant to be!". Really, I couldn't imagine a more fitting environment for her work. It really does seem to be a perfect fit!

Regrettably, we didn't make any purchases at her shop, but it will be among the first places I purchase next time I go for a Seagrove piece. I know one of her little bird vases would be perfect to brighten up a corner in my home! If this is a style that appeals to you, it looks like you can purchase her things online here.

I wish we could've stayed here a little longer, but our little group had to push on. Stay tuned to for more in the Seagrove series: another pottery studio and a chance to meet a potter in a Living Colors post!

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