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‘Craven’ pottery for Christmas?

Gillsville family holds show featuring dolls, jugs, ornaments

POSTED: November 25, 2010 12:30 a.m.
/For The Times

A Potter's Christmas pottery show is set for next weekend in Gillsville.

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Mike Craven's idea for "A Potter's Christmas," a pottery show set for Dec. 3 and 4 in Gillsville, came last year when his granddaughter inquired about her present.

"Last year, my little granddaughter asked me what I was going to give her for Christmas," said Craven, 55.

"I told her, I said, ‘Well, we're in a depression, honey,' and I said, ‘Grandpa is just going to have to make you a clay head doll and sew a sock on it.'"

Although Craven was just joking, his granddaughter took him seriously.

"You know, a month later, that child asked me if I had her doll made. Well, I didn't make her any dolls last year, but I decided I was going to start making clay head dolls and putting socks on them," he said.

The old-fashioned dolls, like the simple ones children used to receive for Christmas, will be featured at the pottery show along with bells and Christmas ornaments in the shape of red birds, miniature strawberry jars, churns and pitchers.

Brittany Williams, 20, a relative of Craven, will also have pieces for sale at the show. Craven said Williams, who learned how to make pottery in his studio, is a perfectionist.

"Her teeth on her face jugs look like dental work," he said.

Craven said he also will have his usual work, including roosters, at the show, and he also plans to demonstrate on the wheel.

To add a "family atmosphere" to the event, Craven said he will serve Irish potato candy and old-fashioned tea cakes, along with hot apple cider.

"I have a couple of old recipes that's been in the family long as I can remember that I'm going to try to make for the show and have the recipes to go with them," he said.

Craven also will offer an orange and a stick of candy to go along with the dolls, "like a child would have got years ago," he said.

Pottery is a way of life for Craven, who began working in a pottery shop at 13 years old.

He uses traditional methods to dig his own clay.

"I mine my own clay, crush it," he said. "I take it from the ground all the way through the kiln."

Craven, whose family name is well known to North Georgia folk pottery collectors, is the ninth generation in a family of potters.

"We go back to the 1730s across the pond over here," said Craven, adding that his distant great-grandfather, Peter Craven, began the tradition in England.

"My great-great-great grandfather, John P. Craven, settled in White County in the early- to mid-1800s, and then they drifted on down in Banks and Hall County," he said.

Craven's father continues to pass down memories of the family's roots in the craft.

"My dad will be 90 in December," said Craven, "and he tells stories about going with his uncles in T-model trucks delivering pottery."

The Craven grandchildren, with ages ranging from 3 to 12, are continuing the tradition.

"They love to get down there and play in the clay," he said.

 



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