It was back in 1996 that we found Seagrove, N.C., and two potters who changed our attitude toward china, art and clay. One worked the old way, turning pots and dishes that served a useful purpose in our dining rooms and kitchens. The other potters, Don and Susan Walton, taught us about the beauty and radiance of glazes and shapes, from huge, round bowls that measured 30 inches across to stunning little pitchers that set off a table setting with the glow of hot blues, grays and browns, all touching and making an almost moving picture.
Sid Luck was the man who made all the dishes in our house, gentle blue, hand-thrown plates of various sizes, milk bowls, platters and cups with spouts in different sizes. Designed, I am sure, to be used when pouring buckwheat batter on a frosty fall morning. Containers shaped to hold rice, sugar and flour, still used for the same things they held on that first day back home, 10 to 15 years ago, classic in shape, size and vital to the keeping of an organized kitchen. However, the true beauty of the container is that it was made by a person who turned that "kick wheel" in practiced skill, learned from five generations of the Luck family.
Don and Susan Walton were more difficult to know. Their work was art in shape and color. If a piece were, in any way, smudged or out of shape, it was thrown in the back to be used for their dog dishes. The quality of their work was examined and critiqued before it ever went on the sale floor. They strove for perfection in the art of potting, and they achieved and have received outstanding accolades for their work. Beautifully shaped vases and bowls delight my eyes as I glance at a corner cabinet or a shelf that holds those radiant examples of modern-day potting.
Now, a new potter has appeared on the York-Chester County scene. Kimberly Grant, a young teacher and mother of three, has decided to take up the wheel. She teaches art at Northwestern High School, where her students are beginning to take an avid interest in the mastery of the kick wheel. All of Kimberly's training has been directed toward art education and fine art. Now, potting has taken over a corner of her world, and she is turning pieces that can be considered utilitarian: a good thing in the home, handmade, art-influenced and a pleasure to look at, along with serving a vital purpose.
What could be lovelier than a bowl of Corn Flakes on a bright summer morning from a handmade vessel, shaped and glazed in a welcoming color? It is, without a doubt, the perfect way to start the day.
Kimberly was quick to say that she started drawing and making tableaus around the trees at her home in Rock Hill. She used shards of glass to build houses and then shaped a colorful road up to their doors. She and a friend were classic landscape designers by the age of 8. They collected broken glass and colorful stones and began telling a story.
Today, all of that imagination is carried to generous-sized canvas where she paints those memories of bright shining images. She quickly told me that her mother, Becky Bradley, was the one who taught her to enjoy the colors of glass shards and to see the way they could be shaped and arranged to form designs now considered to be effectively artistic.
Kimberly has gotten it all together. She invites all of you to visit the Anne Springs Close Library at the York Technical College campus and see her work: little pots, big pots, pitchers, plates, bowls and a couple of large canvases. It is a pleasant way to spend time seeing just what imagination and a solid determination can do
Kimberly and Martin Grant, English Department manager at York Tech, have three daughters, Marin, Piper and Gracie, all watching and enjoying the gifts their mother has to offer, as they, too, eat their breakfast cereal from a handmade colorful bowl.
The Anne Springs Close Library is open during the summer months from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays.