fall and holiday 2018 TGP newsletter

Dear family and friends,

This has been a busy year, having built a new smaller kiln, and having conducted lots of glaze and clay experiments, the latter exclusively with NC minimally processed clays. The smaller kiln was built in hopes of having quicker turnaround times between making and firing, but the closer we got to the holidays, and the more pots stacked up in need of glazing and firing, the more I have relied on Big Bertha, my old car kiln. As I write this I'm gearing up to fire Big Bertha again this week, and possibly a smaller load in Little Bertha next week. Whew!

In the event you can't make it here, we are also in the following NC galleries - Seagrove Pottery in Cary, Baxter's in New Bern, and Pea Island Art in Salvo.

In addition to keeping my shop open Mon-Sat throughout the holiday season, TGP will also be in the following events:

The Southern Christmas Show (thanks to Dan Triece of Dirtworks Pottery), November 8 - 18, at The Park Expo and Conference Center in Charlotte, NC.

From November 17 through January 5, I will have pots in the Holiday Gift Invitational, Christmas at Captain White's, at the Alamance Arts Council, Graham, NC.

From November 24 through January 4, my work will be in the first Holiday Invitational at the Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, NC.

Saturday, November 17, I will be participating in my annual trunk show in Wilmington, NC. This is a private event so please send me an email for an invite if interested.

 That's all for now. I have to get back to glazing pots and loading kilns! We hope to see you all soon!

 Tom and Jane

upcoming events - nov 2018

Here is what is going on with Tom Gray Pottery between now and New Years:

Alamance County Arts Council, Graham, NC - Holiday Gift Invitational - November 7 through January 5.

Southern Christmas Show - The Park Expo and Conference Center- Charlotte, NC - November 8 - 18. My work will be with Dirtworks Pottery, in booth #6.

Center for Visual Arts - Greensboro, NC - November 24 - January 4 - Holiday Invitational.

Celebration of Seagrove Potters - weekend of November 17 - 18 - my shop will be open Saturday and Sunday, although we will not be participating in the Celebration at the Luck’s bean plant. We will also be at an annual, invitation only trunk show in Wilmington, NC on Saturday the 17th. Please email for more info and an invitation.


I seldom go back and try to duplicate pots I made in the past, but this group of bowls made for a special couple has reminded me of how much I liked this glaze. I used it for years, on many types of pots, and it varied widely in different parts of the kiln. I think it’s time to revisit.

little bertha - first firing

The first firing was far better than I expected! You never know what to expect with a new kiln, especially one with novel ideas incorporated into the design. I have been working toward this since February 2018, finally fired on Friday, August 17th, and unloaded on Monday the 20th. I am well pleased, working away to fire again soon, and looking forward to firing Little Bertha often.

blaine avery auction

We are inundated with requests for pottery donations to charitable causes. Many people don't realize that our handmade pots are our form of currency, but, due to tax laws currently in place, we can not write off our pottery donations. I am unable to donate to every cause, but this auction, for my friend Blaine Avery, I think is most worthwhile. 

Attend if you can and buy some pots. Please donate money if you can't attend.

Good luck my friend.

little bertha progress

Progress on Little Bertha, my 4th and probably final handmade kiln. Tomorrow a buddy and I will build the flat-top roof, then another friend will plumb in the gas line and burners, and finally the chimney will be constructed. It sounds like a lot of work left, but I see LB firing very soon :-)

PS: to the lady from Illinois, thanks for reading my blog, and stopping in today. Enjoy your olive oil cruet!

Don't forget to sign up for my occasional newsletter!


mortars and pestles

I thoroughly enjoy making these. They are sturdy enough to grind herbs and spices forever, and will last for a long, long time. Hopefully, these will be in the first firing of Little Bertha, the new, smaller kiln I'm building.

Seasoning info

number 7 for 2018

I fired my 7th kiln load for 2018 last week, and am well pleased with the results. A few of the pots were whimsical, featuring surfers or fishermen, and made with Darkstar, a local clay. Along with all the usual stuff, I'm building a new, much smaller kiln with the assistance of our good friend Terry Childress. Terry is a master stone and tile mason, and inventive potter. Stay tuned for more pics of this new kiln building adventure!

number 6 for 2018

Oddly enough, Bertha, my 65 cu. ft. car kiln, is firing better than ever. Firing number 6 for this year was highly successful, containing lots of mugs, bowls, cruets, plates, trays and more.

Meanwhile, I am still working on my next kiln, which is less than half the size of Bertha.

building a new kiln!

Post number 1, 5/1/18. Thus begins a new adventure; building a new kiln in deference to my age :-)

I have built 3 kilns for myself, and assisted others in building and designing theirs. My last kiln, a 65 cu. ft. modified Minnesota Flat Top, is firing great, but due to my inability to fill it as quickly as I have in the past, I am building a smaller, more manageable kiln. My hope is that I can turn around a kiln load, albeit much smaller, in half the time. The total inside volume will be 30 cu. ft., giving me options I have not had in the past.

In addition to the kiln being smaller, I will use a design I have had in mind for quite some time. The 2 burners will be set up in diagonal corners, with an exit flue into the chimney under the shelves, kind of like a central bath tub drain. The burners and exit flue configuration should create a swirling effect, producing even temperatures throughout. Hopefully it will fire faster too, and be far more efficient.

I am sure someone, somewhere has already built a kiln very similar, but I have yet to see one, or hear of one. The ideas I wish to incorporate make a lot of sense to me, but it will be a month or so before I know if they are valid.

I'll keep you posted.

2018 Spring Kiln Opening

Dear friends and family,

April 21st and 22nd marks the 10th Annual Spring Kiln Opening-Celebration of Spring in Seagrove, hosted by the Seagrove Area Potters Association. We have invited our old friend, Lanny Pelletier, of Cape Carteret, and newer friend, J. Britt Gardner, of Black Ankle, to participate in this event with us again this year. We are also offering a good selection of Laurie Abela's wonderful, handmade soaps. Light refreshments will be served, and shoppers can participate in the SAPA drawing for $150.00 of free pottery.

I have a new glaze pattern this year, Cordoba, named after the Spanish city where Cordovan leather originated, and it has become our favorite. When you see it you'll understand the name. There are some new shapes this Spring, too: stew bowls, larger pasta bowls, redesigned olive oil cruets, and brie bakers.

This year also marks 40 years since I first opened Tom Gray Pottery on the shores of Lake Gaston. I am very grateful for those early customers who encouraged me to stick with it and the latest customers who encourage me to stay with it. It makes me smile when I think about all the people who drink coffee from my mugs, dine with my plates and bowls, display their flowers in my vases, and conclude the day with a glass of wine or hot tea in my tea bowls/wine cups. Thanks to you all.

Please keep in touch on Instagram, @tomgrayseagrove and on my blog at Also, please share this email with your friends who might be interested in handmade pottery.


We hope to see you soon,

Tom Gray and Jane Muse


Tom Gray Pottery

1480 Fork Creek Mill Rd.

Seagrove, NC 27341