Turners and Burners: The Folk Potters of North Carolina

Overview

This richly illustrated portrait of North Carolina's pottery traditions tells the story of the generations of "turners and burners" whose creations are much admired for their strength and beauty. Perhaps no other state possesses such an active and extensive ceramic heritage, and one that is entirely continuous. This book is an attempt to understand both the past and the present, the now largely vanished world of the folk potter and the continuing achievements of his descendants....
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Overview

This richly illustrated portrait of North Carolina's pottery traditions tells the story of the generations of "turners and burners" whose creations are much admired for their strength and beauty. Perhaps no other state possesses such an active and extensive ceramic heritage, and one that is entirely continuous. This book is an attempt to understand both the past and the present, the now largely vanished world of the folk potter and the continuing achievements of his descendants. It is a tribute that is long overdue.

From the middle of the eighteenth century through the second quarter of the twentieth century, folk potters in North Carolina produced thousands of pieces of earthenware and stoneware -- sturdy, simple, indispensable forms like jars and jugs, milk crocks and butter churns, pitchers and dishes, ring jugs and flowerpots. Their wares were familiar and everyday, not innovative or unusual, because they were shaped through generations of use for specific functions. The utilitarian forms were so commonplace and embedded in daily life that few individuals documented the craft. Turners and Burners is the first book to chronicle these pottery traditions, with close attention to distinct regional and temporal patterns and the major families involved. It explores in detail the traditional technologies used, from the foot-powered treadle wheel to the wood-fired groundhog kiln.

Terry Zug became interested in North Carolina pottery in 1969 shortly after moving to Chapel Hill. In 1974 he began documenting the craft and traveled throughout the state recording the reminiscences of potters, former potters, and members of potters' families who recalled the old craft in remarkable detail. He systematically photographed and cataloged old pots, located early shop sites, and carefully recorded the remaining waster dumps of broken shards and decaying equipment. His primary source, however, was the potters themselves. Their tape-recorded interviews provide an insider's view of their world and reveal the powerful underlying logic and autonomy of their craft.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The best book I have ever read on folk pottery.

Warren E. Roberts, Journal of Folklore Research

Turners and Burners makes an enormous contribution to the study of North Carolina folklife. . . . North Carolinians, rejoice!

North Carolina Folklore Journal

An excellent book to read if you are interested in North Carolina, American ceramics, folk life, or general craft practices.

Winterthur Portfolio

Turners and Burners brings the simple utilitarian wares of North Carolina into meaningful historical and cultural context.

Journal of American Folklore

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807842768
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1990
  • Series: Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 473
  • Sales rank: 1,500,314
  • Product dimensions: 8.31 (w) x 9.97 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles G. (Terry) Zug III is professor emeritus of folklore and English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Five North Carolina Folk Artists and The Traditional Pottery of North Carolina and coeditor of Arts in Earnest: North Carolina Floklife.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    The best book written to date on the traditional and folk pottery of North Carolina. Charles Zug has studied this subject long and hard, and his book reflects a formidable depth of knowledge. The section on Burlon Craig is particularly enlightening Zug considers Craig to have been the last NC folk potter and gives an in-depth description of Craig's operation, based on actual visits and conversations. This is an essential work for anyone interested in North Carolina pottery.

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