Folk Pottery: Rediscover the Legacy of Charlie Brown’s “Face Jugs”

Folk Pottery: Rediscover the Legacy of Charlie Brown's "Face Jugs"

Attention All WNC Art Lovers and Folk Pottery Enthusiasts
9th Generation Potter, Charlie Brown is Back!

Have you ever held a piece of pottery in your hands and could just “feel” the history and passion behind it? Well here in Western North Carolina, a unique folk art form with a long history – the “Ugly Face Jug” or “Face Jug” – stills thrives.

This is because of one local artisan who carries the legacy of generations of family potters and who has the touch of a master dedicated to his craft.

Charlie Brown, a master potter from Arden, NC, crafts more than just pottery; he shares his family’s stories in clay. Charlie is the keeper of an artistic tradition that has flowed through his family since 1924.

As a direct descendant of the BROWN BROS. pottery company, Charlie continues to produce some of the most iconic and historically rich pottery in the region.

The Brown family is known for being some of the oldest producers of “Ugly Face Jugs” and Southern Folk pottery in the country, Charlie’s work offers not just an artistic appeal; it provides a tangible connection to the past.

Diving into Folk Art Pottery and Face Jugs History

Folk pottery refers to the traditional craft of creating utilitarian and decorative ceramic wares by hand, which often reflects the cultural and regional heritage of the area where it’s produced.

This type of pottery is typically passed down through generations within families, who maintain many of these inherited techniques and styles.

Folk potters like Charlie Brown, frequently use clays found in the area and produce ceramic products that are both functional and artistic, using the colors, and designs that are typical of their local communities.

BROWN BROS. // ARDEN, NC – Archive Photos

The history of Charlie Brown’s family is deeply interwoven with the cultural fabric of Western North Carolina. The family business started by Charlie’s grandfather, Davis Pennington Brown and his brother, Evan Javan Brown in 1924. The BROWN BROS. company was a pioneer in the local pottery industry and flourished as a tourist destination for many years. The company was famous for using the rich clay deposits found in and around Buncombe County.

Charlie like his grandfather before him is famed for his distinctive “Face Jugs,” a craft passed down through the family.

These jugs often feature whimsical or sometimes even eerie expressions that are said to have originated as a way to ward off evil spirits.

Or as some older folks tell it, the jugs were made “ugly” to keep curious children from sneaking sips of the corn-liquor stored in them!

Each face jug from Charlie’s workshop is a unique piece of folk art, featuring exaggerated facial expressions crafted from local clay and finished with his traditional dark-brown slip glaze.

Charlie’s skills have been nurtured through a lifetime of experience, beginning his journey in pottery at the tender age of two and publicly demonstrating his clay turning by five!

Now, decades later, he continues to innovate while preserving the traditional methods that have defined his and his family’s work.

Come Checkout Charlie Brown’s Pottery for Yourself

Here at Mountain Made art gallery, we are proud to feature a limited collection of Charlie’s pottery, including his famous face jugs.

Don’t miss the opportunity to own a piece of handcrafted history and keep the tradition alive by choosing a face jug that speaks directly to you.

We invite you to come by Mountain Made to welcome back this local legend and take home a piece of Western North Carolina’s rich folk pottery heritage.

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