Early potters in the western North Carolina mountains were concentrated mainly in Buncombe County, near the county seat of Asheville. William Penland (circa 1797-?) established his pottery in Candler around 1831, and succeeding generations of Penlands continued to make pots there. Other early potters in the area include the Stones and the Donkels.Read More
The extraordinary beauty of the mountains attracted Oscar Bachelder (1852-1935) and Walter Benjamin Stephen (1876-1961), who arrived in 1911 and 1913 respectively, and were influenced by the art pottery movement that had swept the country at the turn of the twentieth century. They made art wares, objects for appreciation and enjoyment. Bachelder focused on creating elegant, beautifully glazed forms, while Stephen became respected for his crystalline glazes and cameo wares. For the latter wares, he utilized the pâte-sur-pâte technique. Stephen’s cameo wares are often decorated with scenes of Americana, such as covered wagons and buffalo hunts.
Northeast of Buncombe County is Mitchell County, home to the renowned Penland School of Crafts. Penland was founded by Lucy Morgan in 1929 and has included instruction in ceramics almost from its beginning. Many North Carolina potters have taught there over the years.