Fire in the Kiln

Article Published: Nov. 21, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 25, 2012
Fire in the Kiln

Glenn Bolick, far right, lets the festivities commence at Traditions and Bolick's Pottery's annual Kiln Opening Celebration.

Photo by Jeff Eason

Nothing says autumn in the High Country quite like the smell of wood burning in a wood stove or fireplace.

That smell permeates the air in the Blackberry community south of Blowing Rock every year during the weekend after Thanksgiving.

That’s when Bolick Pottery and Traditions Pottery hold their annual Thanksgiving Wood Kiln Opening and Holiday Celebration. This year, the two craft organizations will hold the event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24.

The Kiln Opening features pottery, live bluegrass music, traditional mountain food and choose-and-cut Christmas trees.

Traditions and Bolick Pottery features the work of the Bolick and Calhoun families, which can trace their crafts back several generations to the Seagrove School of potters in eastern North Carolina.
Lula Owens Bolick and her husband, Glenn, and Janet Calhoun and her husband, Michael, continue a pottery tradition that goes back in the family for 190 years.

At 10 a.m., members of the families will unload the giant wood-fired “ground hog” kiln and place their wares on a big table. The works include face-jugs (Santas, wizards, etc.), pitchers, vases, candlesticks, platters and other traditional wares.

“Few potters use wood as a method of firing due to the labor and time involved in cutting the wood and maintaining the fire,” potter Janet Calhoun said. “The colors achieved in wood kilns are richer and more unique than some of the electric-fired glazes.”

Calhoun added that Traditions and Bolick Pottery fire up their wood kiln only four times a year.
Pottery lovers are encouraged to be present at 10 a.m. for the best selection of wood-fired items, as they go very quickly.

Christmas items include the much sought-after Santa jugs and mugs by Michael Calhoun, snowmen figures by Ina Owens Bolick and lanterns by Lula Owens Bolick fired in the distinct Owens red glaze.
Janet Calhoun, last year’s Craftswomen of the Year at the N.C. State Fair’s Village of Yesteryear, will have pitchers, mugs and new styles of lanterns.

The live music will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Fraser fir Christmas trees will be offered by Traditions Pottery, in the choose-and-cut field on the grounds.

The 18th annual Thanksgiving Kiln Opening and Holiday Celebration is free and open to the public. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.

It is located three miles south of Blowing Rock. Take U.S. 321 south and turn left on Blackberry Road. Go one-half mile, and turn right on Bolick Road. It is located at 4443 Bolick Road.
For more information, call (828) 295-3862 or (828) 295-5099.

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