There’s a great pottery tradition in Ashvegas and surrounding parts. Let me tell you about a little studio I stumbled across last weekend.

I was on my way back from Sylva (see my earlier post) when I decided to stop at Mud Dabber’s. (I always thought those wasps in the clay were called “mud daubers,” but who am I?) I’d seen it before, right on the highway in Balsam, but it looked especially inviting this particular spring afternoon.

The little wooden studio/gallery feels comfortable, it’s doors flung open and its walls stacked with some great pieces of pottery. I’m no expert, so I’ll resist the urge to try and describe pieces and encourage you to see for yourself.

Phillip was standing at his wheel right behind the counter, and we struck up a conversation. Pretty soon, I was snapping pictures and Phillip was telling me more about pottery than I’ll ever remember.

Seems that some of that pottery tradition runs right through Mud Dabbers. The John O. Dodson family started making pots in the ’70s down in Brevard. Today, John O. and his wife live behind the second shop in Balsam, run by son Brad and partner Phillip, who’s from Sandbridge (NC/Virginia). The Brevard shop is run by other family members.

As Phillip described the ins and outs of earthenware and stoneware and porcelin, cone temps and kilns, I spotted a black-and-white photo of a potter at a wheel. That’s D.X. Gordy, Phillip told me, one of a handful of true masters of American pottery. Gordy, with roots in Georgia’s pottery tradition, and the elder Dodson went back a long way, according to Phillip.

There’s no shortage of neat pottery to be found in Ashvegas, as well. I toured the river district’s maze of art studios last year and had great fun exploring and discovering. Me and my boo bought several works that we enjoy and use daily.

But back to Mud Dabber’s. Again, if you get the chance to stop in and see them, you won’t be disappointed.

I enjoyed a great conversation, learned something about pottery and came away with a couple of pieces I love.

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