License to Kiln

Article Published: Jun. 23, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
License to Kiln

Bolick and Traditions Pottery fires up its 20th annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening on Saturday.
Photos by Jeff Eason

Traditionally, the observation of a 20th anniversary is celebrated with the giving of china. The 20th anniversary of Bolick and Traditions Pottery will have plenty dishes, cups, pitchers and other ceramic items, that if not considered china in the strictest definition of the word, are still beautiful, useful and collectible.

Traditions and Bolick Pottery in Blowing Rock will host its 20th annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening on Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This free event will feature live music and storytelling, crafts, demonstrations, Southern food and lots of pottery.

"The first two times we held Heritage Days, it was just a small family gathering," said Glenn Bolick, potter and patriarch of the Bolick family of ceramic artists.

"Then the third year we decided to advertise it and open it up to the public. It's been extremely popular ever since."

According to Bolick, he has met people at the Heritage Day and Kiln Opening events from as far away as Canada and Europe. "I'm sure they didn't make the trip just to come to Heritage Days, but they had a good time while they were here," Bolick said.

Saturday's event will begin with the big wood kiln opening at 10 a.m. Hundreds of pieces of newly fired pottery will be handed out of the large kiln built into the hillside in the Blackberry Community outside of Blowing Rock.

As the pieces are sorted and priced, a crowd will gather around a large table. Once all of the pieces are on the table, crowd members are allowed to pick their favorites in a first-come-first-serve frenzy of pottery picking.

The rest of the day has a more leisurely pace, as folks take in the craft demonstrations, traditional food, and live entertainment.

"The purpose of the event is to educate the public on some of the traditional ways of life," said Janet Bolick Calhoun, Glenn's daughter and owner of Traditions Pottery. "Through demonstrations of heritage arts and crafts, and interactive events, visitors can get a glimpse of the way their grandparents may have lived, worked and entertained."

Craft demonstrations at Heritage day will include pottery making, Indian beadwork, carved sculptures, baskets, chairs, ironwork and an interactive quilting party.

"The working sawmill powered by a steam engine is always a big draw," Calhoun said. "We'll also have demonstrations of shingle cutting, corn grinding and butter churning."

Calhoun added that there will also be a gee-haw-whimmididdle contest. A gee-haw-whimmididdle is a small wooden toy with a propeller. Experts can make the propeller turn clockwise or counter-clockwise by rubbing the towy with a stick.

Entertainers taking the stage during Heritage Days include The Dollar Brothers, Glenn Bolick and Friends, and The Flattops. Storytellers include Orville Hicks, Fred Fawley and others.

Food at Heritage Days is always a treat, and this year's menu will include pinto beans, cornbread, hotdogs and fried apple pies.

The Potters

Lula Owens Bolick is a fifth generation potter from the Owens Family of Seagrove. Janet Calhoun, Lula's daughter, is a sixth generation potter. Together, with their husbands, Glenn Bolick and Mike Calhoun, they produce shapes that have been in their family for more than 190 years.

Each potter brings his or her own designs and techniques to the family tradition. The Ground Hog wood kiln is based on the old wood kilns and the method of firing pottery before electricity became readily available in the Appalachian Mountains. It will be unloaded at 10 a.m., and customers are encouraged to be present at that time for the best selection of wood-fired ceramic items.


Traditions and Bolick Pottery is located at 4443 Bolick Road, 3 miles south of Blowing Rock on U.S. 321. Turn left at Blackberry Road and right on Bolick Road and follow the signs.
For more information, call (828) 295-5099.

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