Artist: Jugtown Pottery
Jugtown Pottery, NORTH CAROLINA
Ben Owen Sr., Jr., the 3rd
Vernon Owens + Family
Work by Jugtown Pottery
The forms derive from simplicity and practice, a continuous line, then a complimentary glaze and occasional decoration. Drawing from the North Carolina tradition, you will find jugs, pitchers and candlesticks in wood fired Salt Glaze and Frogskin, and tablewares in green, blue, brown and gray. Vases, bowls and jars in glazes made with wood ash, local clays, copper reds, greens and iron earth tones, have origins in world clay traditions.
Jugtown Pottery began in 1917, after the chance discovery of an orange pie dish by Jacques and Juliana Busbee, artists from Raleigh, NC. They soon traced it to Moore County and found, along with orange and earthenware, salt glazed wares being made by the local potters.
The first potter to work with the Busbee's was J.H. Owen. J.H. Owen, son of Franklin Owen, was born in 1866.
Ben Owen was hired as the third known potter for Jugtown Pottery in 1923. He was born in 1904, son of potter Rufus Owen. Ben learned to turn in his father's shop. He joined Charlie Teague at the pottery and they worked together for almost 10 years, when Ben became the sole potter at Jugtown. A willing and skilled young turner, Ben produced for over thirty years, many extraordinary forms for the Busbees. He traveled at times to museums and socials with the Busbees.
Jugtown thrives on the aesthetic foundation laid out by the Busbee's. Vernon Owens, recipient of the NC Folk Heritage Award and the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, wife Pam, son Travis and daughter Bayle are the main potters; while Bobby Owens mixes clay and glazes the pieces.
Vernon grew up working in Dad's shop, absorbing shapes from his father, M.L. Owens and his uncle Walter Owen, who worked at North State Pottery in Sanford. In the late 1950's, at the age of fifteen, he went to work also for C.C. Cole making as many as 200 small pieces a day. The economy was in hard times and a good product that sold was something to be proud of.
The main influences in Vernon's pots come from the Moore County, NC pottery tradition, (the utilitarian wares such as jugs, pitchers and churns made in the 18 and 19th centuries), and the art pottery era which began around 1917, from which classical vases and bowls from Korea, China and Japan became the inspiration. Vernon received a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award from the NC Arts Council in 1994. In 1996 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Vernon received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from North Carolina State University in December of 2000. He was also part of the Carolina Preserves project with artist William Mangum.