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Seagrove Pottery | The North Carolina Pottery Trail

Nestled in the countryside of North Carolina you’ll find the largest concentration of working potters in the United States. The tiny town of Seagrove, only 0.7 square miles with a population of 228, boasts the big title of handmade pottery capital of the United States. Seagrove pottery is known around the world and a must for any art aficionados.  

Along with a few neighboring towns, within a 20-mile radius, you’ll find about 100 pottery shops; 70 of which are open to the public. The shops offer a range of pottery, from functional everyday use to sculptural, folk art, historical forms, and even face jugs. Many of the North Carolina potters can be found along the nearly thirty-mile span along Highway 705. 

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McKay Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina

Seagrove, which is located in Randolph County, North Carolina, is famous for its pottery that dates back to the 18th century and before the American Revolution. This part of North Carolina has near-perfect clay for pottery that is also famous for the red hue that has been nicknamed “Seagrove red”.

Many of the first Seagrove potters were Scots-Irish immigrants. At that time most of the pottery produced was functional, glazed earthenware. Today the potters are considered artists and expert craftsmen. You’ll find every kind of pottery you can imagine and here are a few of my favorite pottery shops in the handmade pottery capital.

Pottery in North Carolina

Seagrove, North Carolina refers to a region with one of the United States’ largest communities of potters. Pottery in North Carolina dates back to the late 1700s, when Colonial potters began to make earthenware goods including jugs, crocks, pots and storage jars from the local red clay.

Seagrove Pottery

Seagrove, which is located in Randolph County, North Carolina, is famous for its pottery that dates back to the 18th century and before the American Revolution. This part of North Carolina has near-perfect clay for pottery that is also famous for the red hue that has been nicknamed “Seagrove red”.

Many of the first Seagrove potters were Scots-Irish immigrants. At that time most of the pottery produced was functional, glazed earthenware. Today the potters are considered artists and expert craftsmen. You’ll find different styles of pottery and below I am sharing a few of my favorite pottery shops from the handmade pottery capital.

Face Jugs are a big part of the Seagrove pottery history and tradition, and collectors come from around the globe to see potters like fifth-generation potter Sid Luck and other local craftspeople making these in person.

For over 35 years Seagrove has hosted the annual Seagrove Pottery Festival, held the weekend before Thanksgiving and featuring local potters. The largest pottery community in the U.S. comes together with traditional craftspeople in celebration of Seagrove potters for this special event to sell their wares during the two-day festival.

Original Owen’s Pottery

Owens Pottery, Seagrove, North Carolina

The first stop on a Seagrove pottery tour should be Original Owens Pottery. Founded in 1895, is the oldest pottery shop in the state with six generations who have worked the wheel creating pottery. Today, it’s operated by Boyd Owens, who continues the long tradition of Owens family potters spanning three centuries. The pottery continues to produce traditional dinnerware, and the famous Owens red glaze pottery “finish” are the signature pieces.

The signature red was created in 1945 and the clay comes from two feet under the soil. Going through 1,000 pounds of local clay a week and creating 300 pieces a day, Boyd estimates that there are four more years that they will have the special clay to create their red glaze.

Owens Pottery, Seagrove, North Carolina

Owen’s Original is a must-stop, not merely because the Owens family is one of the older pottery making families in this area, but because the shop is filled with beautiful functional pottery, a collection of vintage bicycles from the 1940’s-1960’s and to watch Boyd Owens at the pottery wheel as he shares his stories of Seagrove and the world of pottery.

Owen’s is one of the most famous North Carolina potters and pottery shops with it’s classic red clay pottery. 

Eck McCanless Pottery

Eck McCanless Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina

Another shop where you can catch the artist at work is Eck McCanless Pottery. Eck is a second generation Seagrove potter who focuses on Agateware pieces.

His approach to pottery celebrates the clay itself and manipulation by the potter’s hands. His process includes turning four different colors of clay together on the wheel, then skillfully controlling the clay so that the pattern becomes a featured aspect of the piece. Eck creates pottery with these mixed colors of clay to create beautifully complex pieces that are truly one of a kind Seagrove North Carolina pottery. 

McKay Pottery

McKay Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina

I had never seen a face jug before visiting Ryan at McKay Pottery. The tradition of pottery with faces dates back to Egyptian and Mesopotamian times and face jugs trace back to the United States and the African slaves who worked on American plantations.

What I was told was slaves were not given or could afford tombstones, so they would make a jug that was as scary looking as possible. Then, if in one year, the jug was not broken, it would mean the loved one was going to heaven. They have evolved into a form of art and are still quite common in North Carolina for many uses today. To learn more about the history, check out this video

Ryan offers a unique twist on the Face Jug and offers customized creations using photos to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece of pottery.

Great White Oak Gallery

Great White Oak Gallery in seagrove, north carolina

Benjamin & Bonnie Burns of Great White Oak Gallery create pottery that is influenced by Oriental masters. Their pieces feature glazes and techniques of the East specializing in Ox Blood and focusing on combinations of blues and greens. They also create hand-decorated specialty items in porcelain, white stoneware, and tiles hand-painted with exquisite wildlife and floral motifs. This unique place showcases their master potter work in a gallery setting.

Latham’s Pottery

Lathams Pottery in seagrove, north carolina

Bruce & Janice Latham’s pottery is mostly utilitarian, offering pieces such as coffee mugs, pie plates, large vases, dinnerware, honey jars, candle cups of many styles, lotion bottles, toothbrush holders, canister sets, large and small casseroles, and a lot more. Their specialty is a hand-turned basket with hand-made flowers on top and both sides. They have a great gift shop where you can purchase all their pottery creations. 

North Carolina Pottery Center

The NC Pottery Center is the best place to start a visit to the Seagrove area. At the center, you can pick up a Seagrove pottery map, learn about the history of the pottery in the area as well as any current special events.

The Seagrove Area Potters Association is another great resource when visiting this area. They are dedicated to promoting the local pottery community that works and resides in Seagrove. They are located at 413 E Main St. in Seagrove.

Seagrove Pottery FAQ

How many potters are in Seagrove?

There are now more than 100 potters to visit in the Seagrove area. NC potteries in Seagrove offer a wide selection of unique, custom, handmade pieces.

Why is there so much pottery in Seagrove NC?

Seagrove, North Carolina is known for its handcrafted pottery that reflects traditions that started here more than 200 years ago. In 1920, a Raleigh businesswoman named Juliana Busbee helped revive the pottery art form by hiring locals to supply her establishment with handcrafted wares. 

Location of Seagrove

Seagrove is located just 15 minutes south of Asheboro, approximately 40 miles northwest of Pinehurst and 1 hour and 15 minutes from Chapel Hill, in central North Carolina.

Map of Seagrove Potters

The North Carolina pottery highway also known as North Carolina Highway 705 is considered Pottery Highway or Pottery Road due to the large number of potters in and surrounding Seagrove.The below Seagrove pottery map gives a general overview of the pottery locations. 

map of seagrove potters


WHEN TO VISIT Seagrove, North Carolina

The best time to visit is in the shoulder seasons; from March through May or from September through November, when it is less crowded and hotels are less expensive.

If you enjoyed this article about Seagrove, North Carolina, you’ll also love Raleigh: A Museum Mecca.


Traveling To North Carolina Soon? Here are a few tips:

How to get there: Seagrove is located in Randolph County, North Carolina, in the south-central part of the U.S. The closest airport is Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) and it’s a 1 hour and 25-minute drive to Seagrove from the airport. Google Flights is my favorite for checking for the best airfare. It searches all flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

Where to stay: When I visited, I stayed at the Hampton Inn of  Asheboro. The hotel is just 15 miles from Seagrove where you will find these amazing pottery shops. There are also  two historic B&B’s in Seagrove;   

What to pack: The temperatures each season vary greatly. In winter you’ll see occasional snow with low’s in January of 29 °F and a high of 52 °F. I visited in August and the high was 94 °F and low 62 °F. You’ll also find rain in the summer months. I was very happy I brought along a travel umbrella, as we had several days with spurts of rain. If you are visiting in Winter, you’ll want to bring fleece lined leggings, a light down jacket, warm socks (I love Ice Breaker), a waterproof outer layer and rain jacket, and some hiking boots (I love Keen).




Read More About North Carolina

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While I was an invited guest of Randolph County Tourism Board, this is a totally independent and honest review based on my experience.  A special thanks to  Randolph County Tourism Board who showed me the very best of the county. Another thank you to Travel Media Showcase (TMS)! Thanks to TMS, I got to experience the fascinating pottery culture of Seagrove, North Carolina. 


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14 Comments

  1. Wow, I never knew this place existed! My husband is really into pottery, so we will have to try to make it there someday. That signature red glaze is incredible – such a rich color!

  2. Oh this is so nice and a unique experience. I visited a pottery shop in the Philippines, but only watched the workers. We’re thinking of visiting North Carolina this summer. Will add this to the list. Maybe my teenagers would enjoy it!

  3. So much love and respect for those who make pottery, I aspire to learn someday! What a lovely and informative article about special places. Thank you!

  4. I never knew there was so much awesome pottery in North Carolina! The red stuff is really cool, and these artists seem to have some really unique work. Browsing art studios is one of our favorite pastimes, so we’ll definitely have to check this place out next time we’re in NC! Thanks for sharing, Alexa!

  5. Wow, this post just brought me to a magical place! Pottery is definitely the perfect mix between art and necessity! Would love to visit this place if I’m in the area!

  6. I love these artist communities. It’s such a great way to experience both community and art in an easy package. I love that work too. Very beautiful paint jobs.

  7. Wow, those are gorgeous! I love handmade art, they are so unique and different!

  8. What an amazing find! I had no idea that there is a Pottery Train in North Carolina. I would love to explore all of the pottery in Seagrove! Their art always amazes me how good they make things and the detail in their pottery is truly amazing. I love the faces made at McKay!

  9. REALLY great info! I have several friends who love pottery! Will share your post with them!!!

    1. Thanks Mary! It’s truly a wonderful place to dive deep into pottery culture!

  10. Thanks for the very informative article! We have traveled the NC Pottery Trail in the past and continue to return to it, each time we are visiting the area. There are many, many more potters! King Pottery is one of my favorites, as is Nimble Hill. Such a pleasing, God given talent, to be a potter…

    1. I’d love to head back and visit more of the pottery studios. Such a wonderful place to explore. The history is so fascinating as well!

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