Knoxville pottery sale attracts devoted followers

KNOXVILLE — When former stockbroker Kathy Miles works on a piece of pottery, she gets lost in the art of it.

“There is something that speaks to your soul when you do pottery,” said Miles, who displayed some of her work at a pottery sale Sunday at the Knoxville Community Kiln. “There is something about the earthiness of it, the permanency of it. These pots are going to be around long after we are all nothing but dust.”

The 60 pieces of pottery for sale were made by Middle Georgia potters, said Mona Lowe, executive director of the Roberta-Crawford County Chamber of Commerce. From the 1800s until the 1930s, Crawford County was known for its pottery.

A buyer’s premium of 10 percent on each piece went toward the restoration of the old Crawford County courthouse, Lowe said. The Middle Georgia Folk Pottery Museum will become a part of the cultural center going in the old courthouse, she said.

Also, the event is a way to help promote the Georgia JugFest and Old Knoxville Days to be held May 16.

About 20 people attended the show Sunday.

“We hate not to have a big crowd,” Lowe said. “But it’s more for education and trying to revive the pottery tradition of Crawford County.”

If only two or three new people came to the show who are exposed to the traditional style of pottery, then they could become collectors, she said.

Jack McLaughlin drove about 2 1/2 hours from Cartersville to attend the sale. It was his third visit in about a year to Knoxville.

“I like the look of the pottery because it looks like it’s an antique, and I collect antiques,” he said. Well-known potter Shelby West, formerly of Crawford County, had several pieces of his pottery in the show. He became interested during high school art class in the traditional style of Crawford County pottery made 100-some years ago.

“I wanted to buy some but they were too expensive,” West said. So, he decided to learn how to make the pottery. He was surprised when friends and family began asking to buy the pieces from him. Over time he began making pieces to sell at shows.

“It’s a hobby, but it’s one that makes a little money instead of costing money,” he said.

West designed and supervised the construction of the kiln used to fire the pottery. It’s similar to one he has at his home in Rome, but it’s twice as large. Stephanie Smith of Crawford County came to the show because she missed out on getting a handmade mug at a show about a month ago. She was happy to buy a mug Sunday made and signed by Shelby West.

“I like the color (of the traditional method West uses),” she said. “It’s a good take on what the older pottery used to look like.”