Catawba Arts - TRADITIONAL CATAWBA Pottery

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The Catawba Native Americans of South Carolina, "The People of the River", have very strict standards for making their traditional pottery.  All pieces must be made from their local clay, hand formed and pit fired.  When you obtain a piece from any of their master potters, you can be assured that it was produced completely by the traditional methods.

Warren and Cheryl have been married since 1990 and have started their own business - Catawba Arts.  They offer an array of different styles and will also make custom pieces upon request.  Give them a call.  You will receive a wonderful piece of Catawba pottery made just for you and will also enjoy their company.

Warren Sanders

Cheryl Harris Sanders

1822 Indian Trail, Rock Hill, SC 29730; by appointment, tel (803) 325-2012


Warren and Cheryl began their exposure to traditional pottery at Catawba when they were youngsters.  Children begin early by gathering and preparing the local clay used by their master potters.

Warren was taught the art by his grandmother, Arzada Sanders - the same person who taught the well known master potter Sara Ayers.  Sara was once married to Warren's uncle Kirk Sanders and learned the art from Kirk's mother, Arzada.  After Warren's uncle passed away, Sara later married into her current surname (Ayers).

Warren is now a master potter who is talented in building all types of forms.  One of his specialties is the making of whistles.  He builds traditional flute-like multi-note whistles and animal figures with whistles built-in, such as his turtle whistles.  He once won best in show, "and all I did was play a flute for them".  Warren also makes a number of other traditional pots and effigies.  He refers to the making of pottery as "building" and the firing process as "burning".  And although they use the same type of clay for their pottery, the resulting colors can range from an earth-tone red to dark green to black - depending on the type of wood that is used when they're burned.

Cheryl, also a master potter, learned traditional pottery from her great-grandmother.  She is the only one in her immediate family to take up the skill.  Her signature work is the "snake pot", a bowl made with the extrusion of a snake around it.  However, she makes several traditional pieces, including animal effigies. 

She introduced a new form to the modern Catawba offerings from a dream.  She saw a clay figural form of a man's head and awoke with the intention of building one.  To anyone familiar with ancient Mississippian pottery, you'll know that this is not a contemporary form, but is in line with that of the ancient Native American past.  It's good to know that the link to their history is a continuing process.  Cheryl's work reflects the some of the most wonderful variety of forms.

Both Cheryl and Warren have work in the permanent collections of many museums, such as the Shield Museum and Columbia Museum. They also bring their art to children in classrooms throughout the region.  In addition, both can be seen at the annual Yab Ye Iswa Festival (Day of the Catawba) held on Thanksgiving weekend at the Catawba Cultural Council Center.  They can also be easily contacted at the above number.

Owl effigy - by Warren Squirrel effigy - by Cheryl

Warren and Cheryl with friends at the Day of the Catawba Festival

Warren's "Water Bird" Cheryl's "Water Bird"


Cheryl displaying her skills... and making it look easy.

At the Day of the Catawba  - 2002