Mud in your eye: Local business shaped from clay

Potters have long gravitated to WNC due to the easy availability of high-quality natural clay and source materials for glazes. It’s easier to move a ceramists to the mountains than to move mountains to ceramists. For one thing, wet clay is heavier than fired ware (though, of course, less fragile).

But back in 1979, Brian and Gail McCarthy drove their pickup into Asheville with two toddlers, a tent and a dream. They wanted to formulate and sell clay. Twenty-eight years later, Highwater Clays is one of a tiny handful of successful ball-clay suppliers in North America and has recently opened a second retail outlet in St. Petersburg, Fla. The company sells almost 30 types of clay, from low-fire earthenware to high-fire stoneware and porcelain as well as a wide range of tools and glazes.

Highwater will hold its annual open house and a celebration of 28 years in business on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. The event will include demonstrations, door prizes and product giveaways.

Schedule of Events
Friday, Sept. 14
• 9:45 a.m.: Jim Skutt (of Skutt Kilns) discusses loading and firing practices, troubleshooting and diagnostics, and conducts Q&A with guests.

• 11 a.m.: Po-Wen Liu from Shimpo demonstrates throwing and handbuilding

Saturday, Sept. 15
• 10:30 a.m.: Jim Skutt discusses loading and firing practices, troubleshooting and diagnostics, and conducts Q&A with guests.

• 1 p.m.: Wheel throwing and altering with Penland master potter Nick Joerling

Diana Farris from Amaco Glazes and Richard Arnfield from Spectrum Glazes will demonstrate both days. Arnfield will be using two types of glaze pens.

Select glazes, book, kilns and wheels will be on sale throughout the open house. With a purchase of $50 or more, customers will receive a free Highwater Clays T-shirt.

For more information, visit Highwater Clays’ Web site, e-mail clays@highwaterclays.com, call 252-6033 or stop in at the retail store at 600 Riverside Drive Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer

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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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