Sunset River to feature Jeffcoat Pottery in Anniversary Exhibition

Opening reception July 31, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Exhibition August 1 – Sept. 6, 2014
Pottery demonstrations:
Saturday, August 9, 12 – 2 p.m. and Wednesday, August 27, 12 -2 p.m.
Weekly drawings for free pottery and gallery gift certificates

Sunset River Marketplace art gallery in Calabash, N.C. will feature a collection of pottery by Joe and Tonda Jeffcoat titled Jeffcoat Pottery: Celebrating 40 Years. This exhibition will run from Friday, August 1 through Saturday, Sept. 6. An opening reception will be held Thursday evening, July 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There is no charge and the public is invited.

Joe and Tonda began their pottery career and passion for the art in 1974 when they enrolled in the newly formed pottery class at Wilson Technical Institute in Wilson, N.C. Tonda says, “Little did we know back then that clay would become a lifetime creative passion for us. With early instruction from Lanny Pellitier and influences from artist-in-residence Frank Byrd and Hiroshi Sueyoshi, throwing and making pots became almost a daily occurrence.” The couple also credit their association and friendship with Dan Finch, former director of the N.C. Pottery Center in Seagrove, with a major role in their growth as artists.

From the beginning, the pair’s work has been almost entirely collaborative. Joe throws most of the forms on the wheel. Tonda then finishes each piece by carving on the surface, piercing or adding handles. Glazing and firing are a joint effort. Their primary method of firing has always been high fire, gas reduction. Joe says, “We were fortunate (at the start of our pottery making) to fire in a gas kiln and to have had access to that kind of firing throughout our 40 years. We use a lot of wood ash glaze, I love the effect of a gas reduction atmosphere. We’ve experimented with other firing methods – wood, crystalline, electric – but gas firing is what we enjoy.”

The two met at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson. Joe went on to a 33-year career with BB&T Bank and Tonda enjoyed a 31-year career as an elementary art teacher in Wilson. However, working with clay was always at the forefront of their lives. With constant attention to form and function, their aim has been to create pieces that could be enjoyed and used on a daily basis.

According to Tonda, “I get daily pleasure from using pieces we’ve made over the years. We’ve always dated our work and to eat from a bowl we made in 1979 not only brings back memories, but is just very special.” She goes on to say, “I find clay to be the most amazing medium. It can be manipulated with such forgiveness when wet and become so fragile and unforgiving when dry.”

The Jeffcoats have a pottery studio in Calabash, which began as a teaching facility but is now for their use only. Daughter Casey works fulltime with them and son Cody is a part-time potter. “It give us such a sense of pride to see both our children making pots today. To see that our passion has been passed down to them is a wonderful thing, says Joe.

Ginny Lassiter, owner of Sunset River Marketplace, says, “Joe and Tonda are highly skilled potters. Jeffcoat Pottery is very much sought after by our visitors. People love their unusual functional pieces such as the bacon cooker, the brie baker and the baby cake bowls. Others collect the larger pitchers and platters. We’re honored to help the Jeffcoats celebrate their 40 year anniversary.”

There will be special anniversary events throughout the month including pottery demonstrations on Saturday, August 9 from 12 – 2 p.m. and again Wednesday, August 27 from 12 – 2 p.m. Beginning at the reception on July 31, there will be weekly drawings for free pottery and gallery gift certificates.

In honor of the 40th anniversary for Jeffcoat Pottery, Joe and Tonda Jeffcoat are creating 40 pitchers to commemorate the event. The 11.5 inch tall piece will hold one-half gallon and is glazed in one of five glaze colors and wood ash. Pre-orders are being accepted through Sunset River Marketplace, with delivery by early September.

About Sunset River Marketplace

Since opening in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace has become an active supporter of performing, literary and visual arts in the area. The 10,000 square-foot gallery features work by over 200 North and South Carolina artists. Its on-site pottery studio has two kilns and three wheels for use by students. Ongoing oil, pastel and watercolor classes are also provided, in addition to workshops by nationally known artists. The gallery’s Coffee With the Authors programs feature presentations by local and regional offers. A recently added Paint & Party series provides a fun after-work experience for those with no previous art background. The gallery’s framing department offers full-service, on-site custom frame design.

Sunset River Marketplace is located at 10283 Beach Drive SW (Hwy 179), Calabash, N.C. Regular hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the website ( or “like” the gallery’s Facebook page, which is updated daily. Reach the gallery by telephone at 910.575.5999.