For the 32nd year of the Riverfest Arts & Crafts Festival, the Service League of Cherokee County has plenty of fresh offerings on tap including a pumpkin patch and mechanical bull for children, a trio of popular food trucks and of course plenty of arts and crafts.
Sept. 24, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sept. 25, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1200 Marietta Hwy., Canton
By Rebecca Johnston >> Photography by Kathryn Ingall & Erin Gray Cantrell
This year’s Riverfest is Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It takes place at Boling Park in Canton along the picturesque banks of the Etowah River and benefits the children in need in Cherokee County.
The new toddler hay maze offers loads of entertainment and the Great Pumpkin Patch will give families a chance to purchase a favorite pumpkin to kick off the fall season with all proceeds benefitting the children.
In addition to the new mechanical bull ride, the children’s area offers several perennial favorites, such as the Canton Lions Club train, pony rides, and a petting zoo.
This year’s festival will feature more than 200 arts and crafts exhibitors, with many returning favorites as well as several new and exciting exhibitors such as Sailor Studio, Lily Bilsand of Monroe, with kiln fired enamel on copper jewelry and bohemian wrap bracelets; Gigi’s Quilts and Things, Cindy Petty of Ball Ground with quilts, aprons, shower curtains and table cloths and Ken Selzer of Clarkesville, with his beautiful oil paintings in an expressionistic landscape style. Collectors particularly love his paintings of rural Georgia.
Admission to Riverfest for adults and children 11 and older is a $5 donation. The event will take place rain or shine. Free parking and shuttle services are available. Dogs are prohibited in the park by city ordinance.
Four local potters who are displaying their wares at Riverfest this year are each on their own unique journey as they turn clay into beautiful works of art that melge form into function.
The potters are among the more than 200 artists and craftspeople displaying their work at this year’s Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival in Canton Sept. 24 and 25 on the banks of the Etowah River. The festival is put on by the Service League of Cherokee County to raise funds to help children in need in the community.
Whether new to the art world and Riverfest, or veteran artisans who are deeply rooted in Cherokee County, these four bring their distinctive talents and interpretations to their art.
For Rick and Sue Malsnee of Malsnee Pottery in Woodstock, returning to this year’s Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival is a little like coming home.
“Riverfest was the very first art show my husband Rick and I ever did. That was 25 years ago. Of course, Riverfest has a special place in our hearts,” Sue Malsnee said. “Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised how friendly and accommodating everyone was that was involved in putting on the show. We have enjoyed participating in Riverfest for many, many years.”
The couple created their pottery business so they could stay home with their three sons and have quality time with them.
“The boys have worked in the shop with us over the years and have experienced the life of an artist and all it entails,” she said.
That process of being a potter can be complicated, she said.
“The process of making pottery is more involved and takes more time from start to finish than I believe most people realize. First there is getting the clay ready to throw or wedging,” Sue said. “The turning of the clay on the wheel forming the pieces, drying the pieces, sanding and cleaning each piece, loading the kiln for the first firing known as the bisque fire. This fire makes the piece hard and ready to take the glazes.”
The beautiful colors in the couple’s pottery is part of what makes it so attractive to collectors and has garnered them numerous awards at shows over the years.
“We make our own glazes which go on next. The glazing and hand decorating take considerable time. The second firing which is a higher temperature, brings out the colors and designs,” Sue Malsnee said.
Once the piece is finished it is ready for everyday use.
“The clay we use is stoneware and makes the pottery very durable so you can put it in the oven, the dishwasher, and the microwave. We use a large variety of colors to match any decor and hand-paint pictures on another design series, such as birds, flowers, cats, pine cones etc. Our pottery is both functional and decorative,” she said.
The couple’s collection includes standard pottery pieces as well as items they have designed.
“Some of the most decorative vases we do are detailed with hand sculpted designs including eagles, wolves, grapes, flowers, seascapes, pine cones, faces and more,” the artist said. “We are always making new items because each and every piece we make is done by hand and will never be identical to the others, maybe similar but not identical.”
The potter said she and her husband have always done their best to provide the public with decorative and functional pottery at an affordable price.
“We appreciate all of our customers because without them we would not be able to earn a living,” she said.
Potter Greg Schulz left the corporate world in 2013 to begin a life as a potter inspired by the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water.
Shulz said he is in love with throwing and hand molding clay in his Canton studio, where he gets up early each day to create original, functional works of art.
“I live in the woods on the Etowah River with my wife, Susan. We are surrounded by natural beauty which inspires and guides my work,” Schulz said. “While creating, I think about the person who will own it one day and details like the handle he or she will hold, how the pitcher pours, and the perfect glaze combinations.”
Schulz grew up in central Florida. His artistic mother encouraged his desire to explore many mediums from an early age. He later graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and pursued a career as a creative director in advertising.
“I desire for my pieces to reflect nature in a whimsical way. It’s exciting to take a lump of clay and turn it into a useful piece of art,” he said.
Schulz is new to Riverfest as an artist, but has enjoyed attending the event.
“This is my first year and I am honored to be chosen as a vendor. As a regular attender, I appreciate the variety of vendors and the friendly and helpful attitude of all of the volunteers. This festival is organized well and in my hometown. Supporting the local economy is important to me,” he said.
Schulz has already become known locally and looks forward to encouraging new collectors at the festival.
“For me, there is nothing like seeing the sparkle and excitement that overcomes collectors who find the perfect piece. I want to create pottery that when given as a gift makes you think of the person who gave it to you,” he said. “Like when a friend buys the perfect cat mug for her feline fanatic bestie. She will cherish her favorite mug for years to come.”
Some of his favorite pieces include his black and white sgraffito.
“Sgraffito means scratch in Italian. It works by applying a special black glaze to an unfired ceramic body and then I carve an image into the piece revealing the underlying layer of natural colored clay. These artistic, functional,” Schulz said.
This year will be the sixth that George Lathem of the Lathemtown community has participated in Riverfest.
“We enjoy being a small part of a festival that raises money for the kids of Cherokee County. We love the beautiful location, the professional way in which the show is run, and the fact that it is so well attended,” Lathem said of his continued participation. “We appreciate the way each Service League member works so hard to meet the needs of vendors and visitors.”
Lathem creates pieces to be both decorative and functional.
“I like for each piece I make to have more than one use. My hand-made pottery is made to be used for cooking, and most pieces can be displayed on a stand when not in use. I use a variety of glaze colors that you can mix and match,” Lathem said.
Handmade pottery adds beauty to a table when serving family or guests, he said. He also likes to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
“Before starting a piece, I consider the purpose of the piece, and the size and shape the piece needs to be. I can then determine what type of clay I need to use. Often, I ‘visualize’ a piece, and can sit down and create it,” he said.
Lathem has several signature pieces that collectors recognize.
“One of the most unusual pieces of pottery I make is a ring jug. It is a wheel thrown piece in the shape of a closed, hollow ring. The early purpose of a ring jug was to hold water, and was often placed in a creek or river to keep the water inside cool,” he said.
Among his favorite pieces to throw are large pedestal bowls, fluted bowls, and pitchers with matching tumblers.
New pieces this year include bird houses, candle holders, and large chip and dip sets. Lathem has also added some new colors to the fall collection.
Lathemtown Pottery can be found on Facebook for more information.
Byrd Mountain Pottery
Native Georgians Triny Cline and her husband, Mike Sherrer, are well-known artists who live outside Canton, where they built Byrd Mountain Foundry and have been making functional pottery there for the last 17 years.
Cline and Sherrer have been a part of Riverfest since the late 1990s, and have nothing but praise for the show.
“It is a well-run show with quality artwork and friendly helpful people. It is always nice to have a good show that is also local.
Byrd Mountain Pottery was named after the nearby pre-Civil War plantation, their “mountain” was named for. Cline and Sherrer live and work with, and despite, two cats and two dogs, on land that has been in Triny’s family since before the Civil War.
Cline grew up surrounded by her parent’s pottery collection. Her father was a friend of folk potter, D. X. Gordy and in the 1950s they worked together to build D. X. a wood kiln. Her mother was raised in New Mexico and she collected native Navajo and Zuni ceramics. Their love of pottery inspired Triny to become the artist she is today.
“We take the raw clay and make each piece of functional pottery by throwing the clay on a wheel or using a slab roller with our own molds. Then we use six to seven— different glazes — our recipes, in combination to make our unique landscape patterns.”
Collectors are particularly drawn to the couple’s work because they have distinct patterns that do not change so someone can collect or replace pieces over time, they said.
“Our pieces hold up well with use so they are not just decorative but are functional. We are even included in bridal registries as dinnerware of choice,” Cline said.
Triny’s favorites are the small pots that go on the table or hang on a nail and Mike’s favorite pots are the very large coffee cups that can hold up to 30 ounces, they said.
“People stopping by our booth should try our mugs because the handles are very comfortable and the mugs themselves aren’t clunky,” Sherrer said.
Cline said they always have something new for collectors and this year’s is an exciting shape.
“Every year we try to make something new. Since we don’t change our glaze patterns, we make a new shape for our long-time collectors and people who are just starting a collection. This year it is our large triangle platters and we are really excited about this new distinctive shape,” Cline said.
Appropriate for daily use, their stoneware pottery is wheel thrown or slab-built with hand pulled and extruded additions.
The glazes are non-toxic, lead free and dishwasher safe. Cline formulates her own glazes and by using multiple and overlapping glaze applications of blue, brown and green. The glaze patterns suggest a natural landscape. The pieces are then fired in an electric kiln.
For information visit www.byrdmtnpottery.com.