Pottery in the Valley

    Although Tammy Leigh Brooks worked alone for the past nine years in her pottery studio, she enjoys teaching students how to throw pots.
    Brooks teaches at The Catawba Valley Potter's Workshop, Catawba Valley Community College's pottery school.
    “It was a lot to get used to at first, what with all the procedural things, but the students are a dream and make it a lot of fun," she said. “I am committed to them making good pots."
    In addition to teaching beginning pottery, Brooks will also teach handbuilding, which is her forte.
    “There's no use of the potter's wheel," she said. “It's raw clay and learning how to form it. It give so much more freedom with design."
    Brooks wasn't schooled to be a teacher, she said.
    “But, my way is my way," she said. “I want them (my students) to be very successful."
    Brooks spent 16 years dealing with people “face to face” in her job, and then the desire to be a potter hit her.
    “I knew I could be a potter," she said.

By Erica Pitrack
O-N-E intern
    One of the state's largest pottery events comes to Hickory on March 25-26.
    Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival is expected to have more than 90 potters from the southeast region of North Carolina, according to Allen Huffman, chairman for the event.
    This year is the 14th annual event with an exhibit featuring Dr. Terry Zug on “Catawba Valley Alkaline Glazes: Past and Present.”
    More than 3,000 spectators from 26 states attended last year's event, according to Huffman. A large number of people are expected to come to this weekend's event, too.
    “This is the first year we titled the exhibit, 'Alkaline Glaze.' This is the main type of glaze used in this area,” said Huffman. “This type of pottery is what has been featured every year.”
    The theme typically revolves around the lecture and exhibit, which is Catawba Valley Alkaline Glaze. Huffman said Alkaline Glaze is the type of pottery that has been in Catawba County since 1820.
    Zug will show spectators how this unique type of pottery is incorporated with the “past and present” to create today's contemporary pieces of art.
    The weekend pottery festival starts at 7 p.m. March 25 with a preview party. The preview party gives visitors an opportunity for early buying and is expected to end at 10 p.m.
    On March 26, pottery will still be available for purchase. Also, Zug will be present March 26 to present his pottery and give a presentation on Alkaline Glaze.
    Zug will display pottery with labels, which are not for sale, similar to an educational exhibit to explain the glaze of the past 200 years to the public. The formal lecture will be prepared on a slide show and starts at 11 a.m.
    This will be Zug’s second time as a guest speaker at the Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival.
    One of his greatest accomplishments is his book, “Turner and Burner: The Folk Potters of North Carolina Potters Speak." To potters, this book is known as a “personal bible," said Huffman.
    The last part of the festival will allow people to bring in pottery for a panel of volunteers to help identify where the pieces came from.
Tickets must be purchased in advance for the preview party. Call (828) 324-7294 or (828) 465-0383 for purchase information.
    This festival is a fundraising event for two non-profit institutions:  the Catawba County Historical Association and the North Carolina Pottery Center.
For further information on the Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival, visit www.catawbahistory.org.