I met a hero of mine yesterday. Someone I've long admired and known we have friends in common, but I actually got to shake his hand and talk to him. His name: Mark Hewitt. He made the absolutely beautiful pots above, the photo of which I shamelessly borrowed from his phenomenal website.
Mark (I hope I can call him this now) works in Pittsboro, NC and comes from a long line of industrial potters in England. He traveled and learned the craft of pottery before finding his way to North Carolina. You can read his whole story here.
I was so excited to see him, and definitely had to work to keep myself from gushing. Yet, as we talked, he was down-to-earth, friendly, and seemed almost as excited to talk to me as I was to talk to him. He genuinely is interested in encouraging others in the arts and helping them learn and grow. We met because I was volunteering at Craft in America's "Crafting a Nation" conference in Washington, DC, where he was on a discussion panel. He shared a lovely essay he wrote about why he has apprentices and why encouraging younger students is important. It made me contemplate giving up this masters degree to go work in clay with him for two years. His excitement for clay and training the next generation is contagious and made me admire him even more.
I highly recommend if you are in NC, or will be, to attend one of his kiln openings. Or, if you're in DC, visit his piece in the Luce Center. Or find a gallery or other collection that has his work in your area.
Meeting Mark reminded me why I love potters so much. They are often humble, friendly people who want to know about you almost more than they want to sell their pots. And because they take that time, it just makes you want to buy their work and support them even more. So today, go out and support your local potter.