Blue Ridge Pottery Birthplace - Erwin, TN
As we look at the picture above, it's obvious where Southern Potteries got the idea for their #6 back stamp showing the mountains and the pine tree. This picture shows Interstate 23 from Johnson City coming to the town of Erwin, TN. It is one of the most beautiful areas that I have seen. Southern Potteries started out as Clinchfield China and Clinchfield Ware (not Clinchfield Artware) in 1917 and progressing to hand painting in 1937, if you're lucky, you can still find transition pieces with decals and touches of hand painting as a rim treatment or swipes on the handle. Some of the very early hand painting efforts are primitive, similar to an elementary student's efforts at art. However, as the artists' expertise increased there are some of the most beautiful examples of designs and patterns that any artist could produce. Even looking at the same pattern done by a different artist or even the same artist shows a significant difference in stroke technique; some delicate and defined, some heavy and bold. Artists were instructed not to intentionally make differences in the patterns for production items, although they could make personal items during their lunch breaks. These personal items are difficult to find and are usually costly. Southern Potteries was one of the largest pottery manufacturers in the United States and shipped their product to major department stores in the largest cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The Clinchfield Railroad (that runs through the heart of Erwin) was used to deliver the pottery throughout the United States. This was the same railroad whose crane was used for hanging the riotous elephant, Murderous Mary, after her trial for killing her handler. With the advent of Melmac and the import of Japanese hand painted products, the stockholders saw the handwriting on the wall and voted to close the pottery in 1957. They paid off their creditors and closed their doors, the pottery did not bankrupt. Some molds were sold locally and this accounts for products that look almost exactly like the original pottery made by Southern. The most well known reproductions were made by the Cash Family and Erwin Pottery, and are collectible in their own right because they, too, are all hand painted. Back in the early 1980's a group of collectors decided to have a Blue Ridge Pottery Show and Sale. Phyllis Ledford headed up the show and worked diligently to get it organized and recognized. The old YMCA building (where the new post office now stands) was the location of the original show. When the old YMCA was torn down in 1997, the show moved to the National Guard Armory, 615 S. Main Avenue, Erwin, TN. When the National Guard was called to active duty after 9-11, a new temporary location was found so that the dealers wouldn't be disappointed and subsequently, after the crisis, the show returned to the Armory and that is where we will be on October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2016. - COME SEE US - WE REALLY ENJOY SEEING EACH OF YOU!!