Potter Chris Joyce has deep family roots in North Carolina, in the pottery-rich south-central section of the state. Joyce grew up in Northern Virginia, but his mother was a native of Stanly County. His grandparents had a collection of pottery which included early pieces from the influential Seagrove-area pottery known as Jugtown. He was also interested from a young age in the salt-glazed pottery that he saw on family visits to Colonial Williamsburg.
Now settled in Halifax County, where he is a school principal, Joyce has taken up the art that for so long has fascinated him. He has was mentored by potter Dan Finch, whose studio is located in Bailey, in Nash County. Joyce has a wheel at home in Heathsville, where he throws his pots late at night. He then takes them to Bailey, where he glazes and fires them. He primarily uses a gas-fired kiln and high-fire glazes.
Joyce explains that, “I make things that I would want to use.” His pottery is mainly functional rather than purely decorative, and he follows many traditional forms in bowls, pitchers, plates, and other items. As a surprise for his son, Joyce once fashioned a small face jug—a form long made by traditional Southern potters. Over time, face jugs have become among the most popular items in his repertoire.
Chris Joyce’s longtime love of pottery shows in his work, in the ways that he blends tradition and innovation into beautiful new combinations. He has written, “I find shaping clay into decorative and functional wares as being both calming and exhilarating at the same time.” Since the beginning of 2008 he has been blogging about his exploration of pottery, and the goings-on at his home studio, Straydog Pottery.