Photo courtesy of Cedric N Chatterley.
Types of Artistry
Lenoir, NC (Caldwell County)
Lula Bolick grew up in the Seagrove area of Moore County, a member of a large family of traditional potters. "I'm a fifth generation potter," she reports. "My great-grandfather started in the late 1800s where I grew up in Moore County." Her father, M.L. Owens, was a well-known potter in the community. His brothers were all potters, and eventually most of his children became potters. "There were eight children in our family," Lula says, "and we all do pottery but one sister."
Pottery was the family business, and everyone participated. Lula recalls that only three or four potteries were active in the Seagrove area when she was growing up. Now there are more than one hundred.
Lula married Glenn Bolick, from Caldwell County, and the two lived in Moore County where she taught Glenn the family pottery trade. "He never saw pottery made before I met him," she remembers. Lula's family was also very musical. She plays guitar and sings, and she and her family helped get Glenn get started with his guitar playing.
In 1973, Lula and Glenn moved to their current home in Caldwell County where Glenn grew up, and they started Bolick Pottery. "We've been married for 43 years, and pottery has been most of our income, Lula says. "We try to stick to a lot of the traditional shapes that my dad and grandfather made." Most of these shapes are more functional than decorative, but the Bolicks also make whimsical face jugs, which are popular with buyers.
Like the earlier Owens shop, Bolick Pottery is a family business. Lula has helped keep her family tradition alive by teaching the craft to her daughter Janet and son-in-law Mike Calhoun. The Bolicks and Calhouns mix their own clay in a process similar to one that Lula's father used. They also create pieces that feature alternating swirls of white and brown clay, a trademark of her family's pottery. On Thanksgiving weekend and during other special occasions, they fire a traditional groundhog wood-fired kiln. "That's what we grew up with," Lula says. "We just kept it up."
Lula has demonstrated at the state fair in Raleigh for 23 years, and she is available to present her work or to do demonstrations. She can also help lead a workshop with her daughter Janet. She rarely performs musically, but she can often be heard playing and singing at the Sunday gatherings at her homestead.