Maggie Jones Turtle Island Pottery Old Fort, NC
I have been in the mountains of NC since 1977 with my husband, Freeman Jones, and since 1980 we have made a living with this craft. We both taught at Blue Ridge Technical College for several years and also maintained a studio at home. While raising our two children the pottery produced was mostly functional stoneware items that we sold at craft fairs and supplied many shops and galleries. We still make that line of functional wares. Since 2000 we have also been producing one of a kind, artfully sculpted works. In 2007 we opened our showroom in Old Fort where the whole spectrum of our work can be viewed and purchased.
Altering wheel thrown forms and sculpting clay is my main focus. I use stoneware clay and beginning with wheel thrown forms I alter by stretching with my fingertips, similar to the pinch pot technique, in stages and then add details. I enjoy applying a variety of color and texture with glazes by brush or dipping. I often refer to antique pottery for new ideas that stem from the everlasting, pleasing, forms made so long ago. My husband, Freeman Jones, often starts the forms, collaborates with ideas and does a lot of maintenance and so-called “grunt-work” loading kilns and such. He is my consultant.
I have been a working potter since 1972 at the age of nineteen. I have no formal education past high school. At age fifteen, I began learning the craft of making pottery under the direction of my Junior High School art teacher. My father set up equipment in our basement and we learned together. By my High School graduation I was proficient at wheel work and became a full-time apprentice for a studio potter in Tarrytown, NY. In 1972 at age nineteen, I opened my own studio and fired with a gas kiln at the fledgling Farmington Valley Art Center in Avon, CT. I also taught and fired another gas kiln for a pottery co-op there.
That summer I participated in a five week workshop in Grass Valley Ca. Sixty participants, five instructors and their assistants finished construction of a 6 chambered Noborigama kiln that was made with bricks made on site. We made pottery from locally dug clay, glazes with found materials and fired with big red cedar. At that time it was the largest wood fired kiln in the country, may still be. Richard Hotchkiss still organizes a firing of this kiln at the John Woolman school each fall.
My ceramics experience or education involves participating in many workshops all over the country as listed in my resume’. I have fired all types of kilns: wood, oil, gas and electric. I have used all types of clays including many locally found clays and minerals. I have built several kilns of my own. I have fired earthenware, raku, stoneware and porcelain, salted, pit-fired and other techniques. I have mixed my own glazes since before the advent of calculators and computers and now work with a wide variety of commercially prepared glazes, my own recipes, and some local materials.
In 1984 I was a special student invited by Paul Soldner at Scripps College in Claremont, CA with privileges the same as a graduate student working towards an MFA in ceramic art. Soldner expressed to me that having me in the studio along with his MFA students was a "shot in the arm". I was an example, for these graduates, of an artist making a living with her craft. I also took a watercolor class with head of the art department, Tucker Cooke, at UNC Asheville in 2000.