Tom Spleth : Featured Artist

The Spruce Pine Potters Market is honored to have some of the most talented potters in the country. And that’s no hype! Did you know that today’s featured artist,

  • was awarded an NEA artist fellowship (remember those?)
  • has work in major public collections in Rhode Island, Illinois, and Wisconsin
  • recently built a wood burning kiln in Sienna, Italy for the Spannocchia Foundation

These are just a very few of  Tom Spleth’s   accomplishments from his rich creative life! Known as the father of American studio slipcasting, Tom moves effortlessly between his ceramics and other media, whether  he’s painting , carving giant woodblocks for printing, etching, or building public art sculpture.

Tom has taught workshops to potters around the world and for 6 years was assistant professor at Alfred University in  NY.

In 2007 the Gregg Museum in Raleigh, NC launched a major retrospective show of Tom’s ceramics, figurative and abstract sculpture, furniture, tiles and light boxes as well as paintings, prints and drawings.

You can find out more about Tom and see additional images of Tom’s work at his web site,  and this coming weekend, October 9th and 10th at the SPPM you can meet Tom, see and hold (and take home) some of his amazing work!

Cynthia Bringle : Featured Artist

Our featured artist for the day needs no introduction.  She is practically a local pottery institution herself, in addition to serving as teacher and mentor to many potters who have come and gone through these mountains.  Even if you’ve never visited the area before, you might have met Cynthia in a workshop somewhere across the country and picked up a little tidbit of wisdom.  We’re glad she is one of the artists participating in the Spruce Pine Potters Market!

Having painted in my early days, I went to the Memphis Academy of Art to continue. After taking several pottery classes I changed my major.  After a couple of summers at Haystack School of Crafts in Maine and graduate school at NY State College of Ceramics in Alfred, NY, I set up my studio.  From 1965-1970, I was in Eads, TN and in 1970 I moved to Penland, NC.  Being a full time artist is my passion and pleasure. I hope yours is in the use.

Honors & Awards

Life Membership – Southern Highland Craft Guild
Fellow of the American Craft Council
North Carolina Award for Fine Art
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts – Memphis College of Art
North Carolina Living Treasure – University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Work is included in private collections and museums, but mostly found in many kitchen cabinets.


What is a pot
a pot is not
just any gray
little bowl of clay
a pot is a pot
for daffodils
or a porridge pot
or a pot for pills
cruets and goblets
jars and jugs
platters and plates
and trays and mugs
shallow pots
or dark and deep
pot to give
and pots to keep
touch them, hold them
pick them up
batter bowl
or saké cup
and feel the curve
of earth and sky
kitchen warm
or springtime shy
a pot is mood
of many hues
but most of all
a pot is to use.


Find out more at her website.

Jerilyn Virden : Featured Artist

Today’s featured artist is originally from Schnecksville, Pennsylvania and
has lived in Mitchell County since 2001 when she was awarded an resident
artist position at the Penland School of Crafts. Before coming to Penland
she did graduate studies in Ceramics at Southern Methodist University after
spending two years as a studio assistant to Sylivie Granatelli

Jeri makes beautiful sculpture in stoneware that areformed through repeated scraping and pinching, building up and finally excavating the appropriate curve, each piece retains the history of its making. Layers of glaze soften these individual marks, bringing more clarity to the form. The surface becomes a way to manipulate scale, moving from intimacy to expansion, in the way one understands a landscape by knowing both the small stone at one’s feet and the bulk of the mountain far away.

If you’ve recently picked up your copy of Ceramics Monthly, you
would’ve seen her work on the cover! So by now you’ve realized that today’s
featured artist is Jerilyn Virden of Penland, NC!

Fellow Mitchell County artist Tom Spleth has this to say about Jerilyn

Jerilyn is one of the most dead-on intuitive ceramic artists I know. She is a 21st-century young woman with a husband and family who has an uncanny ability to make work that resonates with the most profound ceramics ever produced in any culture. She is unerring in the decisions she makes concerning her work. By that I mean she is not influenced by contemporary trends and attitudes or the vicissitudes of ambition but holds true to her own powerful vision.

Jerilyn will bring her latest creations to the Spruce Pine Potter’s Market
on Oct 9th and 10th. We hope you will come and see for yourself!

Tyrone and Julie Larson : Featured Artist

Each year the jurors of the Spruce Pine Potters Market selects potters outside of the Mitchell and Yancey County area to be our guests and sell their work. Please welcome this year’s guests, Asheville potters, Julie and Tyrone Larson. They are today’s featured artists!

Tyrone and Julie Larson have been practicing studio potters since 1966. Tyrone does most of the wheel work, while Julie concentrates on glazing, painting, and designing new pieces. The life of their clay work has evolved over the years with several dramatic changes. They respect the intuitive spark, and go where the process sends them. Their most recent work refers back to Julie’s Italian heritage. She has personalized a very old European technique of painting directly on the raw base glaze with a heavy application of colored glazes in a manner similar to slip-trailing. The layers of glaze fuse during a single high firing, with the layered glaze thicknesses resulting in a raised effect. The porcelain clay body achieves a refined surface and form, and enhances the brilliance of the colors.

We hope you will take this opportunity to welcome these potters into our group for the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11th at the Spruce Pine Potters Market!

Mark Peters : Featured Artist

Today’s featured artist is Mark Peters of Pine Root Pottery. Mark’s pottery is located in Buladean, NC just down the road from the state line between NC and TN. It’s in the shadow of Roan Mountain and the long view from his shop are certainly an inspiration!

Since graduating with a MFA degree in 1997 from the University of Tennessee, he has been working as a self-employed potter, teacher, and kiln designer. Mark’s work has been featured in many books and magazines and his pots have been displayed in ceramic shows throughout the country.

From a recent  article on Mark,

I make wheel-thrown, wood-fired functional pottery.  Each piece is made by hand—a lot of the work is altered or assembled off the wheel. My work is a collaboration between me, the clay, and the fire.  I work with the clay’s inherent qualities to make objects that are complimented through the wood firing. Processes in nature such as wind, gravity, and erosion inspire my work.  Each pot is organic and loose in form while bold and defined in structure. Wood firing is an intensive process, physically demanding but worth the work.  Wood fired pots demand attention and respect.  They have unique characteristics that make each pot one of a kind.

Mark is currently on the Board of Directors at the Energy xChange in Burnsville, as well as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University in Boone!  Mark was also a founding member of the Potter’s of the Roan.

This guy stays busy! Come see and hold Mark’s pots at the show!

Meanwhile you can go to Mark’s web site to see a plethora of videos he has produced that feature techniques, kiln building, etc.

Stan Andersen : Featured Artist

Today we highlight Stan Andersen, a longtime resident of the area, and a pottery working with earthenware.

Stan Andersen received his MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1978.  He was an artist-in –residence at Penland School of Crafts from 1979-1983.

In 1983 Stan and his wife bought an old mountain farm in Bandana, North Carolina.  The pastures, meadows and woodlands that surround his studio serve as inspiration for the surface decoration of his pottery.  He produces utilitarian earthenware pots for the table and kitchen, using the maiolica technique to paint his pieces with strong colors and flowing patterns.

Stan has taught at Penland  School of Crafts, Anderson Ranch, and in the Rhode Island School of Design Summer program.  His work is widely exhibited and has appeared in numerous books and periodicals.

I want my pottery to become part of the daily flow of domestic life, to contribute to the enjoyment of preparing, presenting, and serving food.  I am concerned with the expression of line, color, patterns, and their relationship to hardy pottery forms, and I hope my pots convey a sense of exuberance and casual spontaneity.

Check out this article in Ceramics Monthly to read a little more of Stan’s approach to the pottery lifestyle.

David Ross : Featured Artist

Our featured artist for today is David Ross, who has lived around these mountains about as long as any of us.  He told us a little of his story:

I was born August 7, 1950 and raised on the inland waterways of Melbourne, Florida. This area made a great impact on the pottery I was to make in the future. I developed a great love and appreciation of nature that can be seen in my pottery today.

I had my first encounter with wheel thrown pottery through the Industrial Arts program at Appalachian State University, where I attended college in 1970. The lines, forms, shapes, and continuous curves that came alive on my wheel thrown pots fascinated me. Images I began to paint were influenced from the many Anthropology and Archeology classes I attended and are still present today. I began to make pottery my life’s work.

I moved to Bakersville, NC, in 1975 and spent two and a half years developing my skills with Ron Propst at Penland School. During this time I was also influenced by many other local masters of this craft.

I opened my own pottery studio on Snow Creek in 1977. I currently operate a small gallery here and attend art shows across the country. My work is influenced from my past tradition with nature and the experience of living in a mountain community. This can be seen on my pieces along with my brush strokes that express timeless and natural images that enhance my work.

Lisa Bruns : Featured Artist

The featured artist for today is Lisa Bruns.  Lisa received a BFA from Jacksonville University in 1982. She promptly accepted a job tending bar in Atlanta. After many years of bending over backwards to please customers her back went out. A few years of physical therapy and rehabilitation followed. Then it was time to reinvent herself. Lisa returned to a life-long love of working with her hands. For the past 12 years Lisa has been a studio artist working in figurative clay and jewelry in Folly Beach, South Carolina. She recently moved to Penland, North Carolina and is enjoying the change of view, savoring a new daily source of inspiration in the local flora, fauna and flavor of the mountain lifestyle.

See more of her work at her website.

Bandana Pottery : Featured Artist


Our featured artists for today are Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish, also known as Bandana Pottery, and another in the line of distinct wood firers.

Michael and Naomi live and work in the mountains of western North Carolina. Using many local materials, they collaborate in making wood fired utilitarian pottery. Although they make and glaze the pottery together, individually, Naomi makes the figurative sculptures, and Michael makes the large jars.


Michael got hooked on clay in high school, and became a student at Penland School of Crafts shortly after graduating. It was there that he met Will Ruggles and Douglas Rankin who became teachers and mentors to him. Several years later he was invited to go to Korea to learn the traditional method of making large Ongii storage jars with master Ongii potter Oh Hyang Jong. Upon returning from Korea, Michael began setting up a studio and building a large Thai-shaped wood kiln in the Penland area.


Naomi began making pottery with her grandmother as a child. She studied clay at Earlham College with Mike Theideman, a former apprentice of Warren MacKenzie. She spent a semester in Mexico, where she studied with Mexican potters and discovered pre-colombian clay figures. In addition to making pottery, she began making sculptures inspired by pre-colombian and Japanese Haniwa figures. After college, Naomi came to Penland to take a kiln building class and met Michael, who was building a kiln at his studio. Michael and Naomi discovered they shared a similar passion and approach to making pottery. Now they work together as full time potters, firing their kiln four times a year, and occasionally teaching workshops. Their pottery is named “Bandana Pottery” after the small community in which they live. They exhibit their work nationally.

We make our pots using primarily coarse, impure local materials. Our pots are thrown on a slow turning Korean-style kick wheel, and the large jars are made using a traditional Korean paddle and anvil technique. We then fire the pots in a large, Thai-shaped wood kiln. Through this collaboration with powerful materials and processes, we hope to create an environment in which pots can be born with a beauty beyond what is possible with our own hands. Beginning with the geologic processes that form the coarse red clay, passing through our hands and kiln, the life of these pots is continued through years of daily use.


Find out more at their website.

Claudia Dunaway : Featured Artist


Our featured artist for today is Claudia Dunaway from all the way over in Yancey County.  She tells us a little about her work and how she got here.

I have been a potter for 30 years. I grew up in Reidsville, North Carolina, earned my degree in Art at UNC-Greensboro, then studied with Charles Counts in Rising Fawn, GA. Since that time I have lived in WV, serving as an artist-in-residence for Greenbrier County, and in Fredericksburg, VA, where I taught for the Stafford County schools and maintained a pottery shop in the downtown historic district. In 1988 I moved to Florida where I met my husband, John Richards. Together we owned and operated the Temple of Great Art, No Spitting in St. Augustine. In 2003 we moved to Burnsville, NC where we established the Yummy Mud Puddle studios and vacation house. To live in a community where there are so many professional artists and craftspeople is wonderful. Not to mention being so close to Penland School of Crafts and all it has to offer.


My work took a dramatic turn when Tracy Dotson of Penland built my first gas reduction kiln. When firing in my electric kiln I relied heavily upon the use of colored slips and layering of glazes in order to get the depth of color I wanted in my work. Now I find I can use those same techniques in addition to the flame of the fire to achieve even greater color variation in my surfaces. A black wax line drawn onto the bisque fired pots just before glazing adds definition. A variety of clay bodies allows me to have both a warm and cool palette of pots.

The majority of my work is intended for everyday use. The glazes are food safe, durable, dishwasher and microwave safe.


claudia dunaway4

Find out more at her website.