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South Carolina

In the summer of 1981, South Carolina served as a worst-case example of active potteries. The birthplace of alkaline glaze stoneware in North America had no traditional potteries in operation. Otto Brown, the last folk potter working in the state, passed away in 1980 and within five years all physical traces of his pottery shop would be gone. Since 1981, several important developments have strengthened the future of South Carolina traditional pottery.

Shortly after Mack’s fieldwork, Billy Henson decided to rekindle the rich Henson family tradition. Under the tutelage of potters Burlon Craig and Lanier Meaders, he built a wood-fired kiln and began producing alkaline-glazed wares from his Spartanburg County pottery. Henson passed away in 2002, but his sister, Linda Green and her husband Billy, continue to turn pots and fire in a wood kiln.

Kershaw County potter Otis Norris spent much of the 1970s at Bethune Pottery and built his own pottery in 1998 in nearby McBee. The Edgefield pottery tradition has seen a remarkable revival in the work of potter Stephen Ferrell. Michel Bayne, once a student of Ferrell’s, has established a pottery in Greenville County and is currently building a wood-fired kiln.

In addition, several self-taught potters are producing a remarkable variety of glazed ware. Rosa and Winton Eugene fire a variety of glazes in electric, gas, and wood kilns at their shop in Cowpens and Elizabeth Ringus turns traditional forms like face jugs at her studio in Barnwell County.

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