LENOIR — With several generations of potters present on June 26, the Bolick and Traditions Pottery hosted their annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening on June 26.
In its 29th year, the annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening takes place twice a year. The second typically takes place in the fall.
Janet Bolick Calhoun, a sixth generation potter, said her mom’s great grandfather and his brother settled in central North Carolina from Germany, citing that the area had a great clay source for making pottery. Her acestors made items like pickling crocks and canning jars, and would travel around to sell the items to make a living. Her twice great grandfather would fire a wood kiln three times a week, which Calhoun said would’ve taken a lot of work.
“It takes two days just to cut all of the wood,” Calhoun said. “It takes weeks to make the pots and get them ready, then it takes a day to fire the kiln.”
Calhoun and her other family members — such as her father, mother and husband — now use electric kilns to create pottery pieces, but like to use the wood kiln every so often to hold on to tradition.
“We like to hold on to things of old,” Calhoun said.
“We just invite people to come, and they can get a little piece of history here,” Calhoun said. “They can get a little bit of how their grandparents used to live and work doing pottery or baskets.”
When using the wood kiln, the Bolicks and extended family will cut the wood, prepare the pottery items — taking the time to make, bisque and glaze each one, then crawling into the wood kiln to fire it. Calhoun said the wood kiln takes eight to 10 hours to fire; ten it takes a day and a half or so for the kiln to cool back down for the pottery pieces to be taken back out. The family started firing the wood kiln the Tuesday before the June 26 event.
“It is a lot of work, but it’s a lot of joy to know that our grandparents did it that way,” Calhoun said. “You feel real connected to them.”
Taking the pottery out of the kiln were several generations of the family. Pieces were taken out, priced and then placed on a table for community members to pick. Surrounding the table was caution tape; once it was dropped community members rushed in to claim their favorite pieces.
Community members also enjoyed food provided by Hot Diggity Dog, and music by the Dollar Brothers along with J.M. Trivette. Vendors with hand-woven baskets and hand-painted quilt square boards were also in attendance.