Maggie Valley, NC and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains are steeped in ancient natural beauty that is reflected in its rich mountain culture. For example, people have been making handcrafted items like pottery since they first settled in this area. And local artisans continue to preserve Maggie Valley’s important heritage with beautiful pieces that are as artistically stunning as they are functional.
Similar to the way storytelling served a practical purpose in preserving Appalachian culture, what began as making useful everyday items like plates and bowls for eating, later became a treasured art form that is celebrated all around Maggie Valley and throughout the whole of the Smokies. Read on for some of our favorite pottery studios and galleries where you can be inspired by gorgeous works of art and maybe even take home your own piece of the Smoky Mountains.
Different Drummer Pottery
Right down the street from the Meadowlark, you’ll find Different Drummer Pottery. Local potter and homegrown Maggie Valley, NC resident, Terrance Painter grew up swimming and fishing in Jonathan Creek, the very same stream that runs along our property and past our cozy Smoky Mountain cabins. (Fun fact: Terrance’s dad actually helped build the Meadowlark Motel!)
As a member of the Piedmont Craftsmen – and award-winning potter for more than 30 years – Terrance combines his first love of drawing and painting with pottery to execute landscape scenes on clay forms. He and his wife, Anita, have also written a book with the message of hope and inspiration titled, “Centered, Inspiration from the Hands of the Potter”.
His studio is housed in an old log cabin, giving a nod to the deep history of the Maggie Valley area. As a working studio and gallery in operation since 1980, Different Drummer Pottery is always open for guests to come in and watch. Swing by to see the latest pottery project Terrance is working on and shop his beautiful pieces of art!
Mud Dabbers Pottery
Over in Balsam, NC, visit Mud Dabbers Pottery, a fully functioning studio and gallery that is family owned and operated since 1988. Be inspired by the local potters as they work right there in the open studio space. Watch them throw the clay onto the wheel then use their hands and special tools to seemingly create magic out of thin air.
Constantly creating new pieces, the artists at Mud Dabbers have a steady stream of pottery to choose from. Shop for creative and handcrafted items like mugs, vases, bowls, magnets or even a playful garden gnome!
Mangum Pottery Studio and Gallery
At Mangum Pottery, located on Main Street in Weaverville, NC, you’ll find everything from gorgeous mugs and dishes to home decor, like vases, clocks, and sculptures. Founded by a family of potters, Rob and Beth Mangum combine mountain heritage with contemporary design as they bring awareness and support to the arts. They let the clay itself guide them through the creative process, and when you browse the incredible pottery and works of art, you’ll see why. The medium they use doesn’t steer them wrong.
Asheville River Arts District
The inspiring Asheville River Arts District is chock full of art galleries and studios where you can browse, shop, and even get your hands dirty and make your own pottery. The Village Potters have three incredible galleries, where you can learn more about the history of North Carolina pottery and join in workshops where you can get tricks of the trade from professional potters.
Another spot in the River Arts District is Squeaky Wheel Pottery. Find all the creative inspiration you could imagine in this artistic collection of creatives. Home to 20 different pottery studios, you can visit talented local artisans in their workshops and even ask them questions as they throw the clay and spin their pottery wheel.
Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center
The Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center is a one-stop shop for all things Appalachian heritage, including some stunning handcrafted pottery. As the main showcase for the Southern Highland Craft Guild, you’ll find a wealth of Smoky Mountain traditions at your fingertips. Meander through their well-curated galleries, browse the bookstore and library, and pick out a gift from the craft shop. But the best part – all you have to do is hang out in the lobby for an up close demonstration of local artisans whipping up stunning creations right before your very eyes. It’s a treat for the whole family!
After an artistic day out browsing and shopping for pottery in Maggie Valley, you can call it a night at one of our Appalachian chic motel rooms or secluded cabins. The scenic mountain views will have you feeling inspired to channel your inner artist and create your own pottery masterpieces! Book online here, or give us a call at 828-926-1717.
Meadowlark owner, Joseph Franklyn McElroy, hosts Gateway to the Smokies Podcast – in this episode he talks with Terrance Painter about pottery, art, and growing up in Maggie Valley, NC!