North Carolina’s pottery trail, a nearly thirty-mile span along Highway 705 near Seagrove, includes more than a hundred artisans who make the Piedmont home. These workshops and studios house the largest concentration of working potters in the country, a tradition that dates back to the eighteenth century—many of the descendants of the original Scots-Irish artists still live and work in the area today. A visit to one of the studios open to the public is the perfect way to spend a weekend in the South, especially this time of year, when setting a memorable table for Thanksgiving is top of mind. But if you can’t swing a trip, below are three of our favorite potters crafting easy-to-use pieces that allow food and drink to shine come Turkey time.
136 West Main Street, Seagrove
Alexa Modderno sells her ModdWare pottery at Seagrove Stoneware Gallery, the space she owns with her fellow potter and husband, David Fernandez. The gallery lies in the former location of the historic Seagrove General Store, and her sophisticated, modern take on traditional earthenware is truly beautiful, particularly her vessels for sweet tea and other potables. $50 each; moddware.com
Tom Gray Pottery
1480 Fort Creek Mill Road, Seagrove
Gray’s glaze repertoire consists of a western variation on Shino (a glaze developed in Japan’s Mino Province in the sixteenth century), and the veteran potter, who also sells his work in the Asheville Craft Center, fires his pieces in kilns he’s named Little Bertha and Big Bertha. His gorgeous serving bowls are ready for mashed potatoes and more. $38 each; handmadeinseagrove.com
1295 S. NC Highway 705, Seagrove
A potter for fifteen years, Bobbie Thomas runs Thomas Pottery with her husband, and they’ve become known for their hand-built and -turned tableware and serving pieces. A visit to the space doubles as a garden tour, because Bobbie cultivates seasonal plantings and floral displays around the studio and the gallery. And the duo often hosts hands-on clay classes for visitors. Their take on classic tumblers can double as vessels for flowers. $18 each; thomaspottery.com