Face Jugs

I have been an art teacher at Carolina Day School since 2003. One of my favorite projects that I do with the 6th grade is face jugs, which have a rich and mysterious history in the Carolinas. Potters have been making whimsical “face pots” since the beginning of human history. But in the last 100 years local potters have been making “face jugs” to sell to tourists who began to arrive in the mountains for better health in the early 20th century. Before that, enslaved Africans brought with them their rich tradition of sculpture and artistic style. Some stories say that the enslaved were not allowed to use tombstones, and used face jugs instead to mark the graves of the dead. The decorative jugs were also used to protect their houses and ward off evil spirits from entering. When the 6th graders begin their ceramic journey, I generally make a face jug a step ahead of them as an example to show them how to do different techniques. I love the process and especially how 25 of them look on my front porch at home.