Editor’s Note: This one of an ongoing series of articles about members of the Arts Guild of the Barrens.
The first bowl Evelyn White ever made on a pottery wheel was small, crude and very rustic looking.
“I still have and adore it, because it was my first piece, but I use it for dipping sauce,” she said.
White is currently teaching pottery classes at 212 On The Main, the Arts Guild of the Barrens’ gallery on West Main Street.
Art guild member Sherry Wheeler went to White’s upscale barn sale in Lafayette, Tenn., last fall and invited her to become a member of the art guild, which led to White teaching pottery classes at the gallery.
“When I saw her pottery, I said we got to get her over here,” Wheeler said.
An upscale barn sale takes place in an actual barn featuring booths by several artists. Many are held throughout northern and central Tennessee.
“This year, we are doing [the barn sale] the first weekend in October and we do it for the Arts Council of Macon County,” White said. “We invited these ladies to participate. Sherry did come and we got acquainted. I was excited to [teach this class].”
White has been making pottery for eight years.
“To me, [pottery] relates very much to being a Christian, with God making us from clay and being molded by his hands and shaped with our different avenues of life,” White said. “He molds us. It very much relates to me in that spiritual realm.”
She enlisted the help of a good friend to learn how to do pottery.
“[He] just sat down with me two or three times to show me how,” she said. “Most of it is just practice, practice, practice and more practice.”
A lot of the pottery she makes has a nature theme, featuring flowers and leaves.
“I do a lot of that and I also do a lot of the biblical themes. I also do a lot of calligraphy with Bible verses,” she said.
The most difficult things she has attempted to make are large bowls. They are hard to do because they collapse easily.
“You have a smaller base, and as you come up, if you get [the top] larger than the base, it will collapse easily,” she said.
If a bowl collapses, a potter must re-knead the clay and start over.
“It’s definitely a big learning curve and you have to learn from a lot of mistakes.”
White is teaching hand-building pottery at the art gallery, but she also throws pots on a wheel.
“I started on the wheel and tried to get that trait first, but this is also fun and even with [hand-building pottery], adding the handle, there’s still some hand work that will have to be done on top of what you do on the wheel,” she said.
White considers herself to be a functional potter, meaning everything she makes serves a practical purpose. For instance, last week her students made a clay sculpture that doubles as a lantern.
White mixes her own glazes, but tends to prefer the colors of turquoise and white. The glazes she uses on her pottery makes the pieces microwave, dishwasher and food grade safe.
Betty Brogan, president of the art guild, is taking White’s classes, which are offered on Fridays.
“She’s just a breath of fresh air for us. She rounds out, in my opinion, what we are all about,” Brogan said. “We are learning a lot.”
Wheeler is also taking White’s class.
“I’m just having a blast. I love the class. I love coming up with something different every time,” she said. “It frees your creative juices a little bit.”
For more information about White’s barn sale, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about her classes, call the art gallery at 270-629-2789.
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