JSU Mountain Center to Host Cleburne County Pottery Show on Sept. 23


Cleburne County is known for its sugar bowls.

The fourth annual Cleburne County Pottery Show will be held on Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at JSU’s Cleburne County Mountain Center, located two miles north of Heflin off of Highway 78. The event is free and open to the public.

Historic pottery of Cleburne County will be shown by pottery collectors from across the South. Visitors are encouraged to bring family pottery in for identification and historical background. Joey Brackner, from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and author of “Alabama Folk Pottery,” will present a talk and show on the Pottery of Cleburne County. Contemporary potters Mike Williamson and Bobby Gaither will sell newer items made by today’s folk potters. The show will provide deep insight into the beauty and skills of the mountain people of Cleburne County.

“Thanks to Bill Garland, a folk pottery collector who also works here in our JSU office, we’ve been able to assemble a real collection of great collectors,” said Pete Conroy, director of the JSU Environmental Policy and Information Center and the Mountain Center. “This event gets bigger each year and is now one of the largest celebrations of historic pottery in Alabama.”

Northern Cleburne County has a romantic history of secluded mountains and self reliant mountain people. Many of the basic necessities of these people were made in the local region. Food storage containers and table wares were made at local potteries and used in every household in the county.

These potteries appeared in the Oak Level area in the mid-19th century and operated until 1930. Items such as churns, storage jars, pitchers and jugs were common products of these potteries. In the case of Cleburne County potteries, an uncommon and beautiful addition to this line of pottery wares also included sugar bowls. These attractive and highly decorated pottery bowls are esteemed throughout the country and recognized as one of the most desirable pottery types in the South.