Cotton Pickin’ Pottery Co.: Keeping traditions alive

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Son and mother duo, Brett and Frankie Greer, along with Brett’s wife, Kristy are the potters at Cotton Pickin’ Pottery Co. Pictured are Brett Greer and Frankie Greer. (Kristy Greer)

WEST POINT, Ala. – A trio of potters are preparing to take the 2024 festival and craft season by storm, impressing crowds with their handmade pieces, decorated and glazed to perfection in hues of browns, grays, greens and blues. Cotton Pickin’ Pottery Co. has been throwing and glazing pottery pieces for over eight years, selling pieces locally through wholesale vendors, craft shows and booth stores. Offerings range from standard vases and egg plates to more intricate stamped mugs and decorated trays.

Brett and Kristy Greer, along with Brett Greer’s mother, Frankie Greer, are the potters behind the masterpieces, working together daily. Brett Greer is the thrower of the group, meaning he is responsible for physically forming and shaping the raw clay with a wheel and his two bare hands. Kristy and Frankie Greer then begin the tedious and delicate process of glazing and firing the creations. Together, the three have managed to create a thriving business, one that they hope to pass on to Brett and Kristy’s daughter, Jessa Greer.

The trio began as a duo, with mother and son, Frankie and Brett Greer acting on a dream and an impulse. Frankie Greer had fallen in love with pottery through a high school course in her teens, following the craft for a few years, until marriage and motherhood shifted her course for a few decades. Eight years ago, her husband encouraged her to buy a pottery wheel and try her hand at the dirty art again after so many years; she instantly fell in love again and called her son.

“She called me on the phone and asked me to come home, that she had something for me to try,” said Brett Greer, smiling as he recalled the memory. “I asked her what it was and she said, ‘It’s a pottery wheel,’ and I said, ‘What’s that?’”

After the wheel was introduced, both mother and son spent hours in the basement that first night, throwing misshapen bowls and lopsided vases and creating memories, bonds and a budding business. The two began to get serious about their art, constantly searching for ways to perfect and hone their skills.

Brett Greer went as far as an apprenticeship with Master Potter Jack Sexton of JS Pottery out of Stanley, North Carolina. To be revered and considered a Master Potter, one must have years of experience and extensive knowledge of every aspect of pottery, something that 88-year-old Sexton had in abundance.

“For weeks he would pick me up at 8 a.m., we would go to his studio and he would teach me everything,” Brett Greer shared. “He took me under his wing, took me to his studio and taught me how to make pottery.”

After throwing the pieces and allowing them to dry for several days, the Frankie and Kristy Greer go to work. The solid pieces are trimmed off of the wheel, cleaned up and prepared for the handles, buttons and various decorations to be added on. That process alone can take a while, sometimes adding an additional day to the timeline for completion.

Frankie Greer is responsible for ornate custom orders and additions to pieces, hand-forming great magnolia leaves and cotton bolls to be affixed to serving trays, mugs and deviled egg plates.

Once the pieces are dried, trimmed, and with buttons, handles and any add-ons securely placed, the two women get to work glazing – an extremely long and tedious process.

“It’s literally waiting for paint to dry,” laughed Kristy Greer. “Some things need three or more coats before they’re ready to go in the Kiln. You also have to make sure you have the right consistency of the glaze – not too much or too little on the piece. Too much and it will melt off and stick to the kiln, too little and the glaze will not cover.”

The glazes are a mixture of minerals, water and silica or sand which, when heated to the extreme temperatures inside a kiln, often in excess of 2,000 degrees, creates a chemical bond with the pottery, adhering to the piece and forming a hard, colorful shiny exterior.

Kristy Greer said the day items are due to be removed from the kiln after the long and arduous journey of creating them is her favorite day of all. “I love getting everything out and seeing how pretty it is. It’s my favorite day,” she smiled.

Lately, Jessa Greer has been dabbling in pottery, creating jewelry dishes, trays and bowls, cultivating her ability to create beautiful lasting pieces. The middle schooler is a novice, but her skill shines through with her well-crafted beginner pieces.

Said dad Brett Greer, “We’re so proud of her. We love that she has started doing this and learning how to do it. That’s what it’s about – being with family.”

Find Cotton Pickin’ Pottery Co. on Facebook to learn more about upcoming shows, or information on how to order an original piece.

Cotton Pickin’ Pottery Co. will be at the Bloomin’ Festival April 20-21, in Cullman.

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