January 16, 2017

Cole’s Pottery of Sanford

About fifty miles from Seagrove, but very close to the Seagrove tradition, is Cole’s Pottery in Sanford. Potters Neolia Cole Womack and Celia Cole Perkinson are the daughters of Arthur R. Cole, a prominent North Carolina potter who passed away in 1974. Many generations of the Cole family have been – and still are – traditional Seagrove potters, and Celia and Neolia, though they work a couple of counties away, are very much a part of that lineage.

A. R. Cole’s career began in Randolph County. In 1934 he and his family moved to Sanford, where he established Cole’s Pottery on Route 1. In the pottery the sisters learned the family business, and by the end of the 1930s Celia and Neolia, though still very young, were turning pieces that were sold in the shop. Cole’s Pottery is still in operation today, and though it has been in a few different buildings since A. R. Cole’s day, the continuity of family tradition is strong. Celia and Neolia work with many of the same glazes, and the same Smithfield-dug clay, as their father did. Their own styles and innovations are distinctive as well, and Celia is known for, among other work, her pottery miniatures – tiny pieces turned and glazed in the very same manner as their full-size pieces.

In 2003, Celia Cole Perkinson and Neolia Cole Womack were presented with the North Carolina Heritage Award. They continue to work at Cole’s Pottery, at 3410 Hawkins Avenue in Sanford, where their pottery and that of younger family members can be seen and purchased.

Photo: Miniature pottery by Celia Cole Perkinson; photo by Roger Haile.