Folk Pottery in Appalachian North Carolina


Appalachian pottery played a crucial role in the lives of those who lived in the region before industry took the world by storm, making mechanically produced vessels cheaper and more abundant than their hand-crafted counterparts. Despite the major impact of industrialization, some folk potters still exist, creating vessels in the tradition of the previous generations, as they have learned to do from their forefathers. Many potters reside in the Piedmont of North Carolina due to the plenteousness of good clay in that area. However, there are a large number of mountain potters in North Carolina that remain, dedicated to keeping the tradition alive and well, but adapting to new technology in order to retain their competitive edge. This pathfinder is a guide for locating material concerning the folk pottery in the mountain region of North Carolina.

Introductory Text: 

Wigginton, Eliot and Margie Bennet, Eds. Foxfire 8 . Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984. 510 pages. See pages 71-80. ASU App Coll Stacks: F217.A65 F693 1984.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Pottery - - American, Appalachian
  • Potters - - North Carolina
  • Art - - Appalachia
  • Folk Schools
  • Also Relevant:
  • Penland School, Penland, NC
  • John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC
  • Pottery - - Twentieth Century

More General:

  • Folk Art
  • Appalachia - History, Culture
  • Related:
  • Old Salem, NC - - Moravians
  • Black Mountain College
  • Buncombe County, NC - - Asheville , NC
  • Catawba County, NC - - Catawba Indian Pottery
  • Clippings File Subject Headings:
  • Pottery
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • NK808
  • NK835
  • NK4025
  • NK805
  • NK811
  • F217
  • Z5956
  • TT23

Craig, James H. The Arts and Crafts in North Carolina, 1699-1840 . Winston-Salem, NC: Old Salem, Inc., 1996. 480 pages. See pages 87-94, 452. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK835.N8 C7.

Crawford, Jean. Jugtown Pottery: History and Design . Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, Pub., 1964. 127 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK4340.J7 C7.

Rubin, Cynthia Elyse, Ed. Southern Folk Art . USA: Oxmoor House, Inc., 1985. 223 pages. See especially pages 2-41. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK811.S68 1985.

Zug, Charles G. III. The Traditional Pottery of North Carolina . Chapel Hill, NC: Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1981. 66 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK4025.N8 Z8.

Zug, Charles G. III. Turners and Burners : The Folk Potters of North Carolina . Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. 450 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK4025.N8 Z82 1986.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Gaynes, David. Artisans, Appalachia, USA/text and photography by David Gaynes . Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1977. 50 sheets (portfolio). ASU App Coll Stacks: TT23.2.G39 1977. Four sheets on North Carolina Appalachian Potters including those from Cherokee, Penland, Asheville, and Brasstown.

Sellen, Betty-Carol. Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations, and Resources/by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johanson . Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2000. 326 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK805.S46 2000. Lists galleries, museums, art centers (and some previous exhibitions) complete with contact information, also includes art organizations and artists themselves.

Rosenak, Chuck and Jan. Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collector’s Guide . New York: Abbeville Press, 1996. 320 pages. See pages 70-81. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK808.R59 1996.

Rosenak, Chuck and Jan. Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists . New York: Abbeville Press, 1990. 416 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: NK808.R6 1990.

Wigginton, Eliot and Margie Bennet, Eds. Foxfire 8 . Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984. 510 pages. See pages 209-255, 345-384. ASU App Coll Stacks: F217.A65 F693 1984.


Bronner, Simon J. American Folk Art: A Guide to Sources . New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1984. See page 90. ASU App Coll Stacks: Z5956.F6 A53 1984.

Schwartz, Stuart C., Ed. North Carolina Pottery: A Bibliography . Charlotte, NC: Mint Museum of History, 1978. 313 pages. See especially pages 15-19. Gives sources on Catawba Valley Potters, Buncombe County Potters, and Cherokee Potters, as well as examples on large numerous collections of North Carolina ceramics. ASU App Coll Stacks: Z7179.S39 1978.

Sink, Susan. Traditional Crafts and Craftsmanship in America: A Selected Bibliography . Washington D.C. American Folklife Center (no. 11): Library of Congress, 1983. 84 pages. ASU App Coll Stacks: Z5956.F6 S56 1983.

Abstracts and Indices: 

MLA Bibliography : Covers information concerning literature, language, linguistics, and folklore. Coverage begins in 1963 and is updated nine times annually. Twenty-one records were found using keywords [North Carolina] and [pott*] for dates from 1963 until 2003, presenting various folklore journals such as the North Carolina Folklore Journal , Americana , Appalachian Journal , Foxfire , Festival of American Folklife , and Carolina Folk . Only one source is found if the search is narrowed by using [Appalach*]. This source seemed best suited to the search for North Carolina Appalachian Potters as viewed from an Appalachian Studies vantage. More general subject headings are [ceramics], [folk craft], and [Appalachian Art].

Art Full Text : This database covers subjects from folk art to graphic art, architecture to archaeology from all over the globe and has done so since 1984, providing abstracts since 1994. ArtAbstact sources are updated on a monthly basis and include over 400 art publications. There were 51 records found in the most successful search, relating to [North Carolina] and [pott*]. When further narrowed by [Appalach*] or [mount*], no sources matched. Most abstracts found were from the Studio Potter and Ceramics Monthly , being strictly ceramics magazines, not from the Appalachian Studies discipline. More general searches are found through subject heading [North Carolina] and [folk craft].

AHSearch : The Arts and Humanities Search was a bit less productive, finding only seven entries for [North Carolina] and [pott*], no entries when narrowed to the previous and [appalach*] or [mount*]. Other general searches were keywords [material culture], [folk art] and [ceramics]. This search database finds articles in the arts and humanities field, as well as social sciences, from 1980 until present, updated weekly, containing more than 2.5 million records.

NCNewsstand : Powered by ProQuest, this search provides extensive information on articles in various newspapers around North Carolina. This is a less effective and concise search, finding most articles from Greensboro News Record and Raleigh’s News and Observer . Many articles are located with the keywords [pott*] and [North Carolina], effective in narrowing search was [Appalach*]. Related searches include [ceramic*] and [folk art*].


Americana . New York: Americana Corporation. Bound: 1960-1964; 1966- Annual publication. ASU Reference: AE5 .A55

Ceramics Monthly . Columbus, OH: Professional Publications. Found in ASU Periodicals - begins 1965, latest received November 2003. Monthly periodical (except July and August). Available on microfiche and microfilm.

Journal of American Folklore . Boston, Mass: Published for the American Folk-lore Society by Houghton, Mifflin, and Co. Current quarterly periodical since 1888. General index: Vols. 1 (1888)-40 (1927) issued as v. 14 of the Memoirs of the American Folklore Society; Analytical index: Vols. 1 (1888)-70 (1957) issued as v. 7 of the Publications of the American Folklore Society. Bibliographical and special series; Centennial index: Vols. 1 (1888)-100 (1988) in v. 101, no. 402.

Journal of Folklore Research . Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Folklore Institute. Published three times annually from 1983 - present. Located in ASU Periodicals.

North Carolina Folklore Journal . Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Folklore Society. Sponsored by: Dept. of English and School of Liberal Arts at North Carolina State University, 1973-1976; Appalachian State University, 1977-present. Semiannual (with occasional special issues). Bound: v.21- 1973 - present. ASU App Coll Stacks: GR110.N8 N6. (vols 1-20)

Studio Potter . Goffstown, NH: Daniel Clark Foundation. Bound: v2 (1973/74), v4 (1975/76) - v30 (2001/02). Monthly periodical. Found in WCU Periodicals.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Anna Bauguess, 9 November 2003