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 February 2012


     My family has been making pottery in this region for over 200 years. Why each of my generations past chose to do so, was likely filled with answers similar to my own. Hand me down skills and stories of the past keep me inspired to create my pottery and to add another link in the chain unbroken for so many years.

     I can reach my hand into one of my Dad's vases and touch the grooved inside walls, lined with the tracks of his fingers, and hold his hand once more. He has always been my main source and inspiration to make pottery.

     Truman Cole, my Dad, pushed me as hard as if I had been born a son. He taught and showed me by example, what a person could learn and accomplish if you set your mind to it. To this day, I still reap those benefits.

     My early childhood was spent in Sanford, NC.--the strongest, longest memories and most developmental time in my life. Living in New England, three decades and three daughters later, I returned to Sanford, not with the eyes of a child, but with the wide open mind of an adult who could see the opportunities to change my life's direction. My Granddaddy, AR Cole, saw such potential for change, when he moved from Seagrove to Sanford in the 1930s. For me, 1989 was a sad good-bye to my Dad, but a beginning of my own pottery journey. Long ago, my Dad and Mom had at one time considered opening up a pottery shop in Massachusetts. Although it never came to fruition, I took the name they had wished for, and my business was simply named North Cole Pottery.

     My husband, Kevin Brown, and I have had our little shop grow over the years, not so much in size, but in the menu of works offered. We owe our thanks to many, who have helped us as fellow potters, and as friends, GF Cole, Neolia Cole, Bob Armfield, and Sid Luck, to name only a few. Kevin makes the utilitarian and large pieces and I enjoy making face jugs, miniatures, animals, ornaments and luminaries.

     We attend numerous pottery shows in North Carolina throughout the year. Visitors have a guarantee of having their senses stirred. At every booth, you hear potters speak of their wares and processes, and there is that sense of unity and purpose between artisans and appreciators. Folks that touch a mug, chosen for the color or the feel, can already imagine the taste of their morning coffee. With each sip, they will know it came from a ball of clay--from one person's hands to their own, and they'll have the inside knowledge of how it got there. That is true appreciation for the maker and receiver.

     Making pottery as a hobby is an enjoyable art form-easily expressed. As a career, I would say, it is not for the faint of heart. After the lengthy process of the making, your pottery still has needs to be met. Deliveries, advertising, packing, shipping, deadlines, and shows come into play and patience and sacrifice will likely become your middle name. Yet, the rewards are there and can only be defined by the potter as an individual. Whatever the chosen path--if the clay calls out to you--it will be worth it.

In the end, I would like to dream a bit and think upon a great-great granddaughter 100 years from now holding a piece of my pottery and sensing that she somehow knows me.