north carolina folkway pottery Keeping Tradition Alive

North carolina is known for its rich history in pottery. The preserved arts of past potters are now called the "folkway." There was one last potter, Burlon Craig, who kept these traditions alive. He dug, milled, fired, and glazed his pottery by hand, onsite in the Catawba Valley of North Carolina.

Burlon dug his clay from riverbeds, as they transport sediment from all over the state. He then sifts it, fortifies it with drier material, and pushes it through a hydraulic pug-mill, which in turn gives him ready-to-use clay.

Burlon fired with a rustic underground kiln. He could fit 500-650 pieces in at once, and fired 3-4 times per year. His specialty was the face jugs, a staple in Carolinian history.

Face jugs were made to ward off evil spirits and demons. They were placed on graves so that the spirits would flee, leaving your soul to have a peaceful journey to heaven.

Some face jugs were comical, others scary. Modern face jugs depict happy faces, faces of Gods, and even animals.

Though face jugs are made throughout every culture, North Carolinians should be proud to know that they were started here in North America!

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