A nice seam of blue pipe clay

This is clay in the ground just beneath the topsoil in a tobacco field belonging to Neil Woody on Turkey Creek in Leicester, NC, about eight miles from the pottery. In geological terms, it is an alleuvial or secondary clay, meaning that it has eroded from its point of origin and been carried by water before being deposited by slowly receding flood waters.  The locals call it "blue pipe clay" for its bluish color and because it was used by indians and settlers to fashion tobacco pipe heads.


After getting Neil's permission, my neighbor and friend Terry Brown excavated approximately 200 tons (10 dumptruck loads) of this material and we trucked it eight miles over Earlys Mountain to its new home behind the pottery in Sandy Mush.

A new home

After digging, we replaced the blue pipe clay we had removed from the field with red dirt from behind the pottery.  This arrangement seemed to suit Neil (our tobacco farmer) because the red dirt, which many non-potters call "clay" is a rather sandy mixture that drains much better than the moisture-retaining pipe clay.

--Matt Jones