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A craft in clay
The trick to finding the perfect piece? Its simply the one that speaks to you.
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Pots like this grape-adorned jug will be featured Saturday at the Christmas Kiln Opening at Crocker Pottery in Lula.

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Matt Henderson, resident potter at Mark of the Potter in Clarkesville, explains the process of making a mug.

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Cindy Angliss, owner of Hickory Flat Pottery in Clarkesville, explains the process of making pottery in her studio.

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Chris Brooks, director of the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia in Sautee, tells about the most recent exhibit at the museum, work from North Carolina folk potters.

If you're looking for pottery, you're in the right place.

North Georgia is full of shops and galleries where you can take your pick from a wide variety of pots - from functional items like mugs, bowls and bakers to the face jugs and chickens of area folk potters.

You can begin your pottery trek in Lula at Crocker Pottery, where Michael Crocker, potter and co-curator of the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia in Sautee, will hold his Christmas Kiln Opening on Saturday.

Crocker hosts kiln openings, a chance for folk pottery collectors to see his newly fired wares, every other month. But this month he will also feature more work from other folk potters, including pots from the Meaders family.
Crocker said when buying folk pottery, "the more whimsical items are the catch."

Because most collectors tend to buy decorative folk pots, pieces like face jugs, pigs, grape-adorned jars and chickens are popular.
Crocker said he glazed many of the pots for the kiln opening with a "milky transparent glaze," a favorite choice of the late Arie Meaders, a potter from the Mossy Creek area of White County.

Meaders and her family are featured at the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. The museum, which opened in 2006, gives visitors a look at the history of folk pottery in Northeast Georgia and the potters who make it.

The most recent addition to the museum is an exhibit featuring North Carolina pottery. Many families that carry on the tradition of folk pottery can trace their roots to the state.

"They brought their techniques and styles of making pieces into Northeast Georgia, and they came from that salt-glazed making region, but when they got to Georgia, they began to use the dominant alkaline glaze that we used here, particularly in White County," said Chris Brooks, director of the museum.

Cherokee, Moravian, salt-glazed pieces and alkaline-glazed pieces from the Catawba Valley are featured in the exhibit.
Visitors to the museum can set out on a tour of local folk potters' studios with a map provided by the museum, which can be picked up on site or downloaded at
www.folkpotterymuseum.com.

A 20-minute drive from Sautee will take you to two galleries with more contemporary pottery.
On Ga. 197 in Clarkesville, you will find Hickory Flat Pottery. Cindy Angliss, the potter who owns the shop, makes functional pots like dinner plates, mugs and whisk bowls in her studio.

Angliss is known for her deep red glazes, which she mixes by hand before applying to pots, and fires in a 60-cubic-foot gas kiln.

"What I make is stone ware, which means it's fired to a very high temperature. It's harder than earthenware and it's meant to be used in the dishwasher and the oven. It's less apt to crack," she said.

On many days, Angliss can be found in the process of making her pottery - whether she is throwing pots on the wheel, glazing them or loading her kiln.

"Pottery is so personal that people want somehow to be connected to the artist," Angliss said. "They use all their senses for it. When you think of a painting, they're visually seeing it, but for a piece of pottery, they're using every single sense that they have, so I think that makes it personal."

Four miles south of Hickory Flat, you will find Mark of the Potter, named for the mark on pots that identifies the potter who made it.

Matt Henderson has been the resident potter there for more than 20 years.

Also a professor at North Georgia College & State University, Henderson can be found every other weekend at the wheel at Mark of the Potter. He creates many of the pots in the gallery, which sits next to the Soque River, giving visitors a chance to feed some unusually large trout.

Henderson makes functional pieces like mugs, bowls, pitchers and large vases decorated with earthy, organic glazes.

He said he would advise new pottery collectors to buy a piece "if they're attracted to it enough to want to pick it up, if it feels good, the balance is nice and it's comfortable.

"I make pots because I don't know what else I would do with myself," Henderson said. "I just can't imagine doing anything else."

Editor's note: Tasha Autry has been a potter's apprentice at Hickory Flat Pottery for more than five years.

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