Bobby's Bama: Brown Pottery

By Bobby Shuttleworth - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Walk into Jerry Brown's showroom and you see ribbons and accolades.

In 1992 he was awarded the "national heritage fellowship" and in 2003, the "Alabama folk heritage".

Five of his pieces are currently on display at the Smithsonian.

His says his skills go back nine generations.

"We go back to the mid 1700's on my father's side," he said. "We started out in the New England states and kept venturing South to find better clay and more of it."

And find it, they did.

Brown gets his clay from a pit about six miles from his studio.

The clay is mixed with water, stored in a freezer, and taken out when Brown is ready to make magic.

From the wheel, it goes into the huge kiln and "cooks" at about 3,000 degrees for 15 hours. Three to four days later it's cooled enough to come out.

Some pieces are simply art. Others supply a specific need like the egg separators used by Paula Deen on her show.

Several requests for bacon cookers had Brown perplexed until the answer came in his sleep.

"Evidently I had bacon cookers on my mind, and the one I'm making now just come to me just as plain as I could see it sitting there," said Brown.

There is something for everyone. The fisherman to the cook to the people who pig out. And there are the famous ugly jugs. Some jugs have a weird shape, but a true history.

"That's what the settlers used to take their water to the field in," said Brown. "Fill it full of water and hang it from a mules harness. And it's suppose to stay cool all day."

You might think that since Jerry Brown uses real Alabama clay for his pottery, it would be red. But in fact, that clay takes on a blue hue.

Just one more nifty resource you'll find in Bobby's Bama.

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