Potter Rodney Leftwich says that he and his wife Kim “love the heritage of the mountain region.” Both are natives of western North Carolina, and are deeply versed in the history of North Carolina pottery. In the late 1970s Rodney learned firing techniques directly from Burlon Craig, helping Craig load and fire his groundhog kiln. He has a noted collection of work by the state’s early potters, some of which is currently on loan to the Mint Museum in Charlotte for the exhibit, “Buncombe County Pottery from the Leftwich Collection.” Leftwich has authored Pisgah Forest at Nonconnah: The Potteries of Walter B. Stephen, and is a co-author of the North Carolina Art Pottery Identification and Value Guide.
Rodney and Kim dig locally the clay and other materials for their traditional slip and wood-ash glazes, primarily in Buncombe and Henderson Counties. Once a year they have a firing of crystalline glazed pots, “a tribute to Pisgah Forest Pottery—the first Southern pottery to develop these unique glazes,” Rodney writes in his Southern Highland Craft Guild artist’s statement. The potters’ work is thoroughly grounded in historical and traditional North Carolina methods, but it is by no means an attempt to reproduce the work of earlier craftsmen. “Early utilitarian crock and jug forms as well as early art ware shapes are evident in my work,” he says, but his pottery is also made in a very individual style, known in particular for its incised and cut-out scenes of rural life and animals. Both Rodney and Kim are also skilled in creating clay sculpture, including face jugs and large, one-of-a-kind figurals of animals and people.
Rodney and Kim Leftwich’s work can be seen in many museums, private collections, shows. Their shop and studio (Leftwich Pottery) in Mills River is open year-round by appointment. They also hold open studio events in the spring and fall of each year, when the largest selection of pieces become available.