From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia

By Hart, Moriah | Western Folklore, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia


Hart, Moriah, Western Folklore


From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia. By John A. Burrison. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Pp. ix + 161 forward, preface, acknowledgements, notes, books on Southern Folk Pottery, Index of Potters. $29.95 paper.)

The art of shaping clay and hardening it with fire has been practiced for 30,000 years (the Dolni Vestonici figures from die Czech Republic are dated 25,00029,000). Libraries have shelves of books on ceramics found as part of archeological digs, the ceramics of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Chinese ceramics, delftware, Mesoamerican pre-Columbian ceramics and many others. From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia by John Burrison joins other notable books in the field of American pottery such as Charles Zug's Turners and Burners: The Folk Potters of North Carolina and Burrison 's earlier masterpiece Brothers in Mud: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery.

This slim volume was written as a sequel and necessary update to the living tradition introduced in Brothers in Mud and as a companion to the exhibition curated by die author at die Folk Pottery Museum of Nordieast Georgia. In his new work, Burrison leads readers through die historic development of die craft in die region, explores die changing landscape of folk pottery and introduces die newest generation of die "clay clans" living die art of clay. Aldiough Burrison writes in die introduction that die book is "intended for a non specialist audience" (xvii) it is not missing die scholarly insight of die earlier work. It is an insightful and respectful introduction to die field of American ceramics for die non-specialist and an update to Brothers in Mud and die continually evolving field of American folk pottery for scholars in the field.

The author has a long history in die field without being a ceramicist himself. His first book introducing die history of pottery in the region, Brothers in Mud, was written in 1983. Since diat time Burrison has continued to develop relationships with his collaborators, taking the path from outsider professor to treasured friend through his long work in the field, showing in this book "cooperation between scholarship and art" (xiii) .

I have taken a similar path to that of Burrison, just in reverse; I found the study of folklore through my work as a potter. I was very excited when I opened the wrapper and found this very attractive book. The photos are enticing as a visual accompaniment to the written word. Archival black and white photos and color photos provide a visual chronology to the continuing development of the craft and the culture of clay in the region. …

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