Southern Appalachian Digital Collections

Western Carolina University (20) View all

Pottery: vase

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  • This undated pottery vase was made by Cherokee potter Mabel Bigmeat Swimmer. Mabel Bigmeat was raised on Wrights Creek in the Painttown community of Cherokee, North Carolina. A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, she was a third-generation potter. While she was a young child, she and her two sisters began making pottery with their mother, Charlotte Welch Bigmeat. For a time, Mabel Bigmeat worked at the Oconaluftee Indian Village where she made reproduction pottery for demonstration. She moved with her sister, Elizabeth Bigmeat Jackson, to Flint, Michigan where she continued to make pottery, bringing it back to Cherokee to fire and sell at local craft shops. In 1979, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual organized an exhibiton of pottery by the Bigmeat sisters. A traditionally shaped vase is supported by a frog base. The earthenware clay was shaped using the coil method, and was burnished to a fine sheen.