Explore the Clay and Ceramic Art Traditions of Central Piedmont
More than 100 potters, their workshops, and galleries are located between Raleigh, Charlotte, and Pinehurst in an area known as the pottery capital of the world.
There’s no better way to explore the traditions of North Carolina pottery making than by visiting the museums, pottery studios, and galleries in and around Seagrove, North Carolina. In both Seagrove and along NC Hwy 705, called the North Carolina Pottery Highway, the pottery artists of today are continuing an age-old tradition brought about by the area’s rich deposits of natural clay.
Evidence of pottery making in the North Carolina Piedmont goes back more than 6,500 years. Native American pottery dating to 4,500 B.C has been found in the area, but modern traditions date to the late 1700s when European immigrants began to settle here.
These settlers originally produced redware using local clay that fired to a reddish-orange color. Later, they began making higher fired salt-glazed stoneware. In the early 20th Century, new potters moved to the area and joined the pottery families, some several generations old, creating new styles, patterns, and techniques.
Today, the area is known worldwide for the excellent artistry of the more than 100 potters who work and live here. It is one of the largest communities of potters with the longest continuous history of pottery making in the country. Visit the museums for a look at the past, then pick up a map and follow the North Carolina Pottery Highway to watch potters in their workshops and studios. Bring a picnic lunch, as many of the potteries have both picnic tables and lovely country settings in which to enjoy a meal.
North Carolina Pottery Center
The North Carolina Pottery Center is a not for profit history education, and outreach center promoting and supporting the North Carolina pottery tradition from around the state. Over 800 pottery artifacts and photographs in the permanent collection depict North Carolina pottery from pre-history to the present.
Changing exhibits and special programs include both historical and contemporary pottery, such as the Contemporary Catawba Indian Potters exhibition from May 9 through August 23, 2008. The exhibition includes works by members of North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe, Haleiwa-Saponi Tribe, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The museum shop carries local pottery, books, crafts, and ornaments.
The North Carolina Pottery Center is located in Seagrove at 233 East Avenue, (336) 873-8430. Opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $2 for adults, children 12 and under are free.
Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery
The non-profit Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery is a community and artist supported museum dedicated to preserving and perpetuating traditional pottery in the Seagrove area. The 5,600 square foot museum houses work by local artists as well as some antique pieces produced in the area. Full-color maps to area potteries are also available.
Each year in November, the museum hosts the Annual Seagrove Pottery Festival the weekend before Thanksgiving. It is the only time that area potters get together to sell their work in one location.
The Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery is located in Seagrove at 122 East Main Street, (336) 873-7887. Admission is free.
Pottery Galleries in Seagrove
- Village Pottery Marketplace, 205 E. Main Street
- MasterWorks, 246 East Avenue
- Seagrove Creations, 354 Little River Road
- Seagrove Pottery, 106 N. Broad Street