FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 31, 2017
Donation to Shelton House Collection by Rodney Leftwich Honors Jackie Stephens, Curator Emeritus
(Waynesville, NC August 31, 2017) Today local Potter Rodney Leftwich, a specialist in historical pottery materials and techniques from Western North Carolina donated one of his latest creations to the Museum of NC Handicrafts in the Shelton House in honor of Curator Emeritus Jackie Stephens’ recent retirement. Jackie spent 12 years as the Curator of the Museum of NC Handicrafts which includes unique items from the Leftwich Folk & Art Pottery studio located in Mills River, NC. Jackie Stephens and Andrea Long, Managing Director of the Shelton House accepted this valuable addition to the Museum collection with Rodney and his wife Kim in attendance.
Rodney’s first pieces in 1979 were copies of early crocks and milk pitchers as well as face jugs. When a number of other potters began producing face jugs and similar folk style work, he began to draw or incise scenes on his pottery. Eventually he began to cut out around and between the incised images to create decorative vases and candle lanterns. Each creation is individually designed and requires many hours of intricate cutting, incising and glazing. This style, while rooted in the historical pottery traditions, is unique in its approach. Rodney describes these works as one-of-a-kind art pottery derived from regional folk traditions.
Rodney’s latest creation uses famous “ETOWAH BRICK” clay from Henderson County where the former Moland-Drysdale brick factory was located for the vase and is decorated with Tuckaseegee Mica slip dimensional images carefully crafted in multiple layers. This vase is a wonderful example of the use of the Pisgah Cameo technique sometimes referred to as “Mountain Wedgewood” due to its resemblance to the famous English pottery technique.
Much of Rodney’s work is devoted to the life and work of the distinguished potter/pioneer Walter B. Stephen (1876-1961) best known for his cameo wares and crystalline glazes. His crystalline glazes were the first achieved in the South and his cameo designs with folk life scenes are truly unique American art pottery. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement in the early 1900’s, Stephen created the shapes to which his mother applied multicolored floral decorations on matte green backgrounds known as slip-decorated pottery. Moving to Skyland, North Carolina in 1913 he established the first full-time art pottery in the state and in 1926, Stephen began operation of Pisgah Forest Pottery where he explored Oriental glazes and forms, pioneered the first crystalline glazes in the South, and developed his cameo wares which resemble English Wedgewood jasperwares but are created from hand painted multiple layers of porcelain. Reflective of his early experiences in the Western USA, Stephen’s porcelain cameo scenes included covered wagons, Indian hunts, cabins, fiddlers and other scenes of American folk life. Recent auctions set record prices with a Pisgah Forest cameo example bringing over $9000.
Rodney is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and some of his work is sold at the Guild’s Folk Art Center in Asheville. The Leftwich’s best selections are always available at their home studio in Mills River with sales held twice a year. Their studio is also open year round by appointment and they can be reached at Leftwich Folk & Art Pottery in Mills River, NC or by phone at 828 890-3053.
The Shelton House
Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts
Celebrating History • Heritage • Handicrafts
PO Box 145 • 49 Shelton Street • Waynesville, NC 28786
828.452.1551 • email@example.com