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Nov. 30 is Fast Approaching and with it the Annual Thanksgiving Kiln Opening at Traditions Pottery Studio

By Rebecca Mullins

Nov. 25, 2013. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Traditions Pottery opens their famous wood kiln and sells these heritage pieces to the public. Nov. 30 is just around the corner, and with it your chance to own a delightful piece of pottery you won’t find anywhere else.

The kiln opens Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. at the Traditions Pottery Studio located on 443 Bolick Rd. in Lenoir. The kiln houses pieces by the whole family, Traditions Pottery and Bollick Pottery. All pieces within the wood kiln will be available for purchase and run from about $20-$225. In it you will find face jugs such as Santas, wizards, Monday-Friday jugs and cry babies as well as Rebekah pitchers, vases and snowmen.

newkilnBoth shops will be open that day as well and the wares inside stocked and ready for purchase.

Everything is open to the public. Also at lunch time, a fifteen bean soup and chili will be available for all who come.

Year round, Traditions Pottery uses their electric kiln to heat pieces, but two times a year, they go the extra mile to cut the wood, load their pieces inside and heat their wood kiln for a different effect. 

“A lot of time the colors in a wood kiln are a lot more iridescent,” said Janet Calhoun, owner of Traditions Pottery and potter since she was 12.

It takes a lot more effort to heat the wood kiln, but the colors come out in a spectacular blend. Inside the wood kiln, heat wells up. Then, when the fire dies down, they open the door to allow a splash of cool air into the mix. The combination of heat and cold create what Calhoun termed, “reduction fire.” This fire heats the pieces in a way that makes the colors shine. 

“We like to do it cause that’s how my grandfather did it,” stated Calhoun. 

This old form of heating is what the past generations of potters used before electric kilns were available. Its a tie to the past and our heritage.

“Its a family tradition to fire it on Thanksgiving Day,” shared Calhoun. 

And this tradition has become one of our own as many in the community make it part of their Thanksgiving tradition to come out the Saturday after to see the kiln opening and vie for a piece of the treasure. 

Photo by Lonnie Webster

It’s a first come first served basis on this spectacular day. The kiln is opened and unloaded onto a roped-off table with bystanders standing at all four edges. When all of the kiln’s contents are on the table, the rope is lowered and the dive begins. 

“We always have more people than pots,” said Calhoun.

This makes the morning an energetic competition for those present, but the kiln opening isn’t all about getting the prime pieces of loot. It’s also about education, heritage and history.

“As the pieces come out, my dad tell the history of each piece,” Calhoun remarked.

He explains the work that goes into the wood kiln, pottery and the history of pottery. People come out for more than just the pottery, they come for a reiteration of times long past and a reminder of how we’ve come to where we are today.

This wood kiln opening is a momentous occasion you don’t want to miss. It offers once in a lifetime treasures from a kiln you won’t find anywhere else, so bring your family and friends and join in the tradition that’s present at Traditions Pottery Studio this Nov. 30.