For six hours on Saturday, June 9, the hill behind the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be filled with 20 potters selling ceramic wares for both décor and function. Clay Fest is an annual Southern Highland Craft Guild event that celebrates the varied craft processes and techniques used with clay. The Guild’s makers are continuing the new elements of a festival to enhance the twenty-plus-year-old event. Alongside the Guild’s potters will be a handful of invited guest potters from across the country.
Exhibiting potters are Joe Frank McKee, Paven Beer Chunhaswasdikul, Jim Whalen, Rob Withrow, Rose Pinkul, Susan Coe, Steve Loucks, Lynnette Hesser, Brant Barnes, Marion Schlauch, Ed and Kari McIlvaine, Larry Allen, Justin Allman, Emily Reason, and Michael Lalone.
In addition to being able to shop on the hill, visitors will be able to watch the second annual Clay Olympics. Each exhibiting master potter will compete in two events, throwing the tallest vessel and throwing the widest bowl. Contestants are given a five-pound wedge of clay and five minutes. Prizes are given to the top three competitors, one of which is 25 pounds of a of Laguna clay (their choice) from The Village Potters.
Attendees are invited to participate from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in various activities. For a chance to get behind a wheel, students from Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts program will be assisting attendees with throwing on pottery wheels.
Raku potters Judi Harwood, Steven Forbes-deSoule and John Turner will be assisting attendees wanting to make their own raku pot. This ceramic firing process uses flames and smoke to create unique patterns and designs. Pots will be available for purchase for $10 and participants can glaze and then watch it be fired.
With the Folk Art Center located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors and locals have the opportunity to visit the craft shop, as well as three exhibition galleries. Outside are hiking trails, picnic tables, grassy areas for relaxing. There is plenty of parking. Clay Fest is a free event on June 9, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information visit, www.craftguild.org or call 828-298-7928.