Swirl ware has been a popular technique of using colored clays by Catawba Valley potters since the early 1940's. It was started by Sam Propst to cater to tourists when his utilitarian vessels began to lose their usefulness due to modern refrigeration and glass containers. Dubbed as "Fancy Ware", these pieces were sought out by tourists and collectors for their beauty and not function.
In the beginning, most pieces were made from a dark clay and a white clay, giving the appearance of a "cream and chocolate swirl" look to them. Later, potters began working with oxides to color their clay to produce varied colors such as blues, greens, yellows, and even reds.
Today, there are a handful of potters in the Catawba Valley that still produce this "Fancy Ware" and it is highly desired by collectors.
Steve Abee is one of these potters that uses these time honored techniques to produce vibrant blues, deep browns, brilliant whites, and even luscious reds.
See how these wonderful pieces of art are created.