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SCC Ceramics Class Visits Handmade Pottery Capital of the United States


On a journey to immerse themselves in the art of ceramics and pottery, the Ceramics I class at Surry Community College and their instructor, Ross Byrd, traveled to Seagrove, N.C., on October 19.

Seagrove is well known as the Handmade Pottery Capital of the United States, and the field trip provided a wide array of learning opportunities and experiences for the group.

The first stop on their trip was to the North Carolina Pottery Center, which hosts a museum about the history of pottery, as well as a display of contemporary pieces. Some of the contemporary pieces were available for sale, and some were simply on loan from the artist. The Pottery Center also has a small gift store, where some of the pottery students splurged.

Image of student ceramicists viewing ceramic pieces on display at a musuem
SCC student ceramicists Nubia Echavarria and Bri Beasley observe pieces on display at the North Carolina Pottery Center.

Chloe Faulkner, SCC student ceramicist stated, “I was really excited to be able to see more advanced ceramicists’ work, as well as the opportunity to purchase pieces from them.”

The grounds behind the North Carolina Pottery Center featured a kiln that mimicked many of the others spread throughout the town of Seagrove. This exploration provided the students with a vivid visual of what the pottery process is like in Seagrove.

“It was very interesting to see the different styles used within each shop. Seeing the different ways to fire pieces has inspired me to build my own wood fire kiln in the future,” said Nubia Echavarria, SCC student ceramicist.

Image of student ceramicists visiting an outdoor kiln
The group was able to see several examples of kilns used in the Seagrove area and speak with the experienced ceramicists that use them.

Bri Beasley, a counselor at SCC who is auditing the course, said, “The trip to Seagrove was eye-opening. I never expected the town to have a culture built around this artistic ability. This talent is so unique that I truly underestimated how many potters would exist and host shops so closely together.”

She also stated that, “My favorite part of the trip was meeting the different potters and reflecting on their work in comparison to the other shops we visited along the way. Each potter had their own style of pottery, which brought to light the diversity of talent that exists within the town itself.”

Next, the students visited several locally owned pottery stores, allowing the students to view and appreciate many varied and unique pieces. It also gave the students an opportunity to ask the potters questions on technique, materials, and much more.

Image of student ceramicists visiting ceramic shops
The group visited several locally owned shops on their trip.

“Seagrove is a perfect area to take ceramic students. In one day, you can see a history dating back to the late 1800s to present times. Some of the artists keep the old traditions and practices alive while others are working in very contemporary ways,” stated Ross Byrd, SCC Ceramics Instructor.

Students may take a ceramics course at Surry Community College to fill an art elective while completing an Associate in Fine Arts in Visual Arts. The Associate in Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts program focuses heavily on the visual fine arts and is recommended for those who plan to continue their education at senior institutions. This program prepares transfer student to meet selective admission criteria for acceptance into a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor in Visual Arts.

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