Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Clay Day Part One: Billy and Linda Green

Last Saturday folk art potters Billy and Linda Green had a sale of their recent work and my wife, my son, and I were lucky enough to attend. The Greens only live about 20 minutes from my home but I had never been to one of their firings or sales. They live in an area of Spartanburg that was a hotbed of ceramic activity during the 1800’s and up until about 1940. I was told that Billy Green picked up pottery from his neighbor Billy Henson years ago and recently Linda picked up the habit from her husband.

We didn’t know exactly what to expect when we arrived. We had been told that it would be a lottery style sale where everyone would be allowed to draw a number at 10:00am. The people with the lowest numbers get the first picks of the work and they continue through all the numbers until everyone has had a chance to choose. When all numbers have been called it turns into a free-for-all and everyone is allowed to choose among the pottery that is left. Having been to many art related events I half expected the scene to into Wal-Mart a couple of weeks before Christmas complete with pushing and shoving and swearing.

Instead we found the friendliest group of people in the state. As we arrived and walked directly into the Green’s backyard, I felt completely at home. Behind their house there were several outbuildings and a few tables set up and loaded down with pots. People were milling around and chatting while making mental lists of their favorite pieces. There were plows and tractors and chickens and it was wonderful. Complete strangers came up and talked with us as if they’d known us all our lives as everyone came together over this shared interest. My friend Paul was there from Columbia and after we let the kids check out the roosters he introduced me to Linda and she told me a little about some of her favorite pieces and her interests in making pottery. A little while later Billy and I talked about dogs while we waited for the sale to begin. A person would be hard pressed to find any pair of people nicer and more genuine than Billy and Linda.

My luck had me draw a number in the 50’s and when Linda asked who had the highest number I found out that only one person was lucky enough to draw a higher number than mine. And in a very classy move, Linda awarded the man with the highest number a very cool pot with a large flower glazed on it. Missed it by one. When the selecting began it moved quickly and everyone seemed thoroughly pleased with their choices. This was likely due to the fact that there were so many quality pieces to choose from. Most of the work was by Linda and in addition to the regular jugs and pitchers she had several more sculptural pieces she had turned into elephants, people, and pigs. Of course there were face jugs too and while those carried on the tradition of the face jug, these had their own style and individual charm. Very much like Billy and Linda themselves.


i wear mittens but not gloves. said...

This is great!
There is a wonderful couple in Waxhaw, NC that run a pottery studio/store, i can't seem to remember the name of the studio but its right downtown across the street from a little church and the waxhaw "surf shack", ha.

lionel1 said...

Your blog on "Clay Day Part One: Billy and Linda Green" was a very interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us, your work is really appreciated.

I run a related blog about pottery and was recently quoted saying…

If you are looking for a great creative outlet or a new hobby that can bring in a little spare change while you are at it, you may want to consider learning to make your own pottery.

Feel free to check out the full blog post on my related blog
over at…



Anonymous said...

You might be interested to know that Linda Green is the sister of the late, great SC potter Billy Henson that you mention. I had the honor of meeting Billy and Linda Green several years ago while on a business trip in Lyman. Billy took me back to an old shed that was filled with cobweb covered pottery. In hindsight I should have bought every piece available.

e-sketchbook said...


Anonymous said...

Came across your blog while researching artists for a project...very fun to read! Hope all is well


e-sketchbook said...

Mollo! I miss you! Hope you are doing great.

Anonymous said...

Was searching Billy Henson pottery and came across this blog. My name is Melanie Kittrell and my aunt is Linda Green. I enjoyed your blog and I was the one passing out the numbers. :). My 81 year old grandmother and sister to Linda Green was researching some of our family's pottery online and found your post!! Thanks for the kind words!