Warren and Cheryl began their exposure to traditional
pottery at Catawba when they were youngsters. Children begin
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
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
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
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