The old Leslie Gore song, "It's my
party," about a young girl's heartbreak,
contains the lyrics, "Judy and Johnny
just walked through the door, like a queen
with her king." Pottery business
owners, Johnny and Judy Lynn, could be
arguably dubbed the local king and queen
of pottery, but they are singing a song
of success, not heartbreak.
a warm November afternoon, the couple
can be found in their studio, a small
wooden house built in the 1950s, just
yards from Boardtown Creek.
set of large blue tick hounds greets visitors
with wagging tails and deep voices.
the front room of the studio, two large
kilns squat in front of a wall covered
with accolades and ribbons from various
craft shows the couple travels to each
year. By the end of this year, they will
have spent over 30 weekends on the road,
but, says Johnny, that is a light workload.
"This is how we eat," he says.
platter features a few of Judys
jars and jugs garnished with clay
leaves sit ready for sale.
inside of this kiln can reach temperatures
as high as 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit.
flock of angels dries atop one of
the kilns used for firing clay.
has received numerous accolades,
including a best of show
ergonomically correct left-handed
fish mug allows users to hold it
with a straight wrist.
at craft shows and festivals, the couple
ends up beside other potters. The increased
competition is not usually a problem,
though. "It doesn't bother us to
have other potters...they're not anything
like us," says Johnny.
the Lynns have developed a very unique
style of sculpture. Judy specializes in
frogs and incorporates them in every way
she can into her works. She makes frog
bowls, mugs, chip-and-dips and multipurpose
pitchers, and the couple's pottery Web
site url is www.frogpottery.com. Johnny
describes them as "her main forte."
"She can put such character and expression
in these frogs," he says.
only do the pieces have visual appeal,
but they are microwave, stove and dishwasher
safe. "You can just do numerous things
with these pieces, and that's why they
are so popular," says Johnny. The
Lynns ship these pieces all over the country,
so they have to be durable.
fired clay is hard to break, which Johnny
demonstrates by slamming a mug down on
a countertop. "It's a whole lot sturdier
than you think it is," he proclaims.
The glaze is also quite safe when the
pieces are used in food preparation. It
will not seep or flake off into food.
appears to have a natural ability for
her craft, but she did not simply stumble
upon her hidden talent. She spent years
developing her sculpting style, beginning
when she apprenticed with a potter in
Florida for three years and spent 10 years
under the instruction of other potters
learning "what would sell and what
has now spent 21 years as a professional
has changed in the process of making pottery
since it originated thousands of years
ago, says Johnny. Judy does have some
modern conveniences, like an electric
potters wheel, rather than a primitive
"kick wheel," which requires
the potter to kick a stone on which the
wheel sits repeatedly to get the wheel
The utensils Judy uses to carve intricate
designs into her clay are simply modified
versions of tools used in ancient times.
freestanding jugs are two of Judys
more pricey creations due to the
workmanship that goes into their
unusually tall shapes.
demonstrates her throwing
technique. She can throw a mug in
less than two minutes.
workmanship process must be completed
over the course of several days, so she
must start weeks ahead of time to have
a supply ready for a craft show.
first day, she "throws" a bowl
or sculpture and lets it dry to a leathery
consistence. The term "throwing"
is derived from the way a sculptor actually
throws a piece of unmolded clay onto the
wheel so that it sticks and will not move,
therefore allowing the sculptor to more
easily mold it.
any garnishments, such as clay leaves
or vines, are added. The piece is then
fired in a kiln at a low heat of 1,800
the piece is allowed to cool, Judy puts
a resistant wax onto any part she does
not want to glaze. The piece is then dipped
in the glaze and fired to 2,300 degrees
Fahrenheit in the kiln where any wax melts
It is important not to remove the clay
from the kiln before it is sufficiently
cooled. Early removal could result in
"crazing," in which fine cracks
break out all over the piece. This flaw
cannot be reversed.
couple has developed their own unique
shade of sea foam green glaze, which they
refuse to reveal the formula for. Any
potter "who's worth anything,"
says Johnny, should have his or her own
secret glaze recipe.
Judy's pieces range in price anywhere
from six dollar spoon rests to $600 tall
type of creation that is rapidly growing
in popularity is her face jugs. They are
a takeoff on the "ugly jug,"
which originated as an unattractive face
molded onto a moonshine jug to keep children
away from the container's contents.
has modified this idea by accepting orders
for custom face jugs, and she actually
molds the clay into a likeness of a customer's
emphasizes Judy's ability to churn out
pottery quickly and without error. Judy
says she can throw about 100 mugs during
a day's work.
couple lives for pottery.
fact, their relationship began as a result
of a pottery challenge. They met at a
party where Johnny told Judy he felt confident
that he could throw a piece of pottery.
A skeptical Judy took him up on the challenge,
and Johnny, indeed, threw a bowl.
was the most amazing thing I had ever
seen...so I hired him," she says.
Lynns sell a substantial amount of pottery,
so they require a substantial amount of
clay. Every three to six months they have
a ton of clay delivered just for their
own purposes, although they say they would
be willing to supply other pottery enthusiasts
in the area with clay.
also plan to start giving sculpting lessons
in the next few months. Already, Johnny
regularly invites visitors to "play
in the mud" and try to create their
own mugs and bowls.
makes the task look easy, but, as Johnny
points out, "You can drive a car,
but you can't race." Years and years
of study and trial and error have gone
into Judy's designs, and her satisfied
customers are a testament to her hard
work and talent. Unlike the eventually
slighted Judy in Gore's lyrics, Judy Lynn
has made this business into her own party.