Practical Potter Would Fire any Pieces not Making Themselves Useful

Julie Covington is all about form and function.
Photo by Clark Hodgin

“It’s very organic,” Julie Covington says of her business’ growth. Years spent at Phil Mechanic Studios in the busy River Arts District meant she could build clientele, produce the finely detailed work she loves, and, eventually, live the farming life north of Asheville. She now runs her studio out of her rural homestead.

Photo by Clark Hodgin

Covington began throwing pots at age 15, and she’s been a professional potter in the Asheville area for the last 14 years. Vines, pods, swirls, and delicate leaf patterns sprawl across her pieces, finished in earthy greens, rich yellows, and brilliant turquoises. To achieve a remarkable level of fluid detail, she works with fine Japanese brushes, dipped in simmering water during the decoration process to keep the wax from stiffening. In the kiln, the paint sometimes seems to acquire delicate gray edging or smoky patterns across the pot. “It’s kind of like batik for pottery,” she explains.

Her works all reflect a refined whimsy, inspired by purpose. Covington’s pieces are meant to feel at home in small spaces, not kept in a cabinet or reserved for occasional use. She envisions them on counters, dinner tables, and passed from hand to hand. “I love making big bowls. It’s satisfying when you throw something on the wheel and the centrifugal force of the wheel makes the clay want to go out. … It’s just fun and satisfying to me to make that really beautiful interior curve.” Like the images she paints on them, the shapes of her vessels mix graceful simplicity with a touch of the unexpected.

Photos by Clark Hodgin

In addition to her jewel-toned pots — her bread and butter — Covington does limited runs of pieces, often printed with antique or unusual images: a woman in a bustled skirt shooting an arrow, a troupe of monkeys riding on a zebra, mushrooms sprouting on a forest floor. She sells them at seasonal markets and at special events.

“I want my things to be really, really, really beautiful and invite you,” Covington says. And she also wants them to be “very useful … [to] feel useful and practical, and fit seamlessly into a kitchen routine.”

As she loves to imagine her works in their future homes, she also loves her place in her own community of farmers, artists, and musicians, pleased that she’s forged a life where she can trade her own art for art from fellow makers — or even trade a pot for a butternut squash.

The potter uses fine Japanese brushes to achieve her level of detail.
Photo by Clark Hodgin

Julie Covington, Weaverville. Covington sells her work at Heartwood Gallery (21 East Main St., Saluda), at Flow Gallery (14 South Main St., Marshall, flowmarshall.com), at Grovewood Gallery (111 Grovewood Road, Asheville, grovewood.com), Dobra Tea (78 North Lexington Ave. downtown and 707 Haywood Road in West Asheville), and at Villagers (278 Haywood Road, forvillagers.com). She will participate in the Potters of Madison County event on Saturday, April 13, 9am-4pm, at Marshall High Studios (pottersofmadisoncounty.com) and at the Weaverville Art Safari on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28, 10am-5pm (weavervilleartsafari.com). For more information, see covingtonpottery.com.

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