For six hours on Saturday, June 10, the hill behind the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be filled with more than twenty potters selling ceramic wares for both décor and function. Clay Fest is an annual Southern Highland Craft Guild event that celebrates the varied craft processes and techniques used with clay. The Guild’s makers are adding new elements to enhance the twenty plus-year-old event into a festival with exhibitor booths. Alongside the sixteen Guild potters will be a handful of invited guest potters from across the country.
“Despite our membership requirements having physical boundaries that require residence in one of 293 counties, we strongly believe in building a creative community beyond our region,” says potter Joe Frank McKee. “Having invited potters is a fantastic way to share more techniques and methods, as well as build a deeper appreciation for the craft.”
A range of styles and techniques will be showcased by the following craft vendors: Jim Whalen, Marti Mocahbee, Amy Goldstein-Rice, Travis Berning, Brant Barnes, Joe Frank McKee, Paven “Beer” Chunhaswasdikul, Larry Allen, Steve Loucks & Lynnette Hesser, Bill Lee, Freeman & Maggie Jones, Sarah Wells Rolland of The Village Potters, Zan Barnes, Fred & Rose Pinkul and invited guests Alysha Baier, Susan Coe, Rob Withrow, Rusty Owens, and Justin Allman.
In addition to being able to shop on the hill, visitors will be able to watch the first annual Clay Olympics. Each exhibiting potter is invited to compete in two events, throwing the tallest vessel and throwing the widest bowl. Contestants are given a five-pound wedge of clay and five minutes. Prizes are given to the top three competitors with gift certificates to Highwater Clays, Southern Highland Craft Guild merchandise, and other local goods.
Attendees are invited to participate from 10am – 4pm in various activities. For a chance to get behind a wheel, makers from local education center, Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts, will be assisting attendees with throwing on pottery wheels.
Raku potters Lynn Jenkins, Gary Clontz, John Turner, Tina Curry and Steven Forbes-deSoule will be assisting visitors wanting to make their own raku pot. This ceramic firing process uses flames and smoke to create unique patterns and designs. Pots will be available for purchase for $10 and participants can glaze a pot and then watch it be fired.
With the Folk Art Center located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors and locals have the opportunity to visit the craft shop, as well as three exhibition galleries. Outside are hiking trails, picnic tables and grassy areas for relaxing. There is plenty of parking. Clay Fest is a free event on June 10, 10am – 4pm. For more information visit, www.craftguild.org or call 828-298-7928.