The East Fork Pottery Mug


The Bitter Southerner General Store is glad to be able to bring you a piece of genuine, Southern pottery artistry — and probably the last coffee mug you’ll ever need.

• Dishwasher-safe
• 12-ounce capacity
• Approximately 4.25 inches high
• Diameter approximately 3.25 inches
• Handle length: 3 inches

26.00 32.00
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All Wealth Is From the Earth


One of the earliest stories that ran in The Bitter Southerner was a feature about Alex Matisse, a potter and the great-grandson of the world-renowned painter, Henri Matisse. Alex, who grew up in New England, has rebuilt his life in the South, turning an old farm in Madison County, North Carolina, into a place called East Fork Pottery. And he and fiancée, Connie, recently welcomed their firstborn daughter, Vita Rose Matisse, into the world.

We were fascinated by Matisse’s time-honored method, using a large, old-fashioned, wood-burning kiln to fire his pots. Writer Jodi Rhoden described it in her story:

“This is the method: Alex builds thousands of pots one by one, then dries and decorates them. He and Connie, along with a contingent of friends and fellow potters, seal them in the kiln and build a steady fire that reaches a stunning 2,300 degrees — literally hot enough to melt your grandma’s cast-iron skillet. They never know exactly how much of his work will be destroyed in this age-old process. Typically, 5 to 10 percent of the pots never make it out alive.”

But the ones that make it out have a rare beauty, one that combines the artistry of the potter with the unpredictable, primal nature of fire. As a result, of course, Matisse’s pots can demand high prices.

After our story ran, we became friends with Alex and began exploring a collaboration between East Fork and The Bitter Southerner, something that could make East Fork’s artistry more readily available to more people. The result of that collaboration are these coffee mugs, fired in the hand-built kiln at East Fork and stamped on the bottom with the emblem of our collaboration.

Every mug is slightly different, depending mostly on where it sat in the kiln in relation to the fire. Buy multiples, and you’ll discover that each one is equally beautiful, but each is also unique, with slight differences rendered by the power of the fire.

The Bitter Southerner General Store is glad to be able to bring you a piece of genuine, Southern pottery artistry — and probably the last coffee mug you’ll ever need.

(NOTE: Even those these mugs are finely crafted pottery, Alex assures us these are safe to put in your dishwasher. Imagine that. Art in your dishwasher!)

 
 
 
 

All photos by Whitney Ott