Lanier Meaders

 

Meaders was one of the most gifted of Southern potters from the Mossy Creek community in Cleveland, Georgia. Established in 1893 by his grandfather, John Milton Meaders,and carried on by his father, Cheever, Lanier Meaders’ pottery produced both practical ceramics for household use and artistic forms, particularly the grotesque “face jugs” so popular with contemporary collectors. Everything in Meaders’ shop smacked of the nineteenth century: the small, wooden shop building usually occupied by asingle worker, the old-fashioned potter’s wheel, and the tubelike tunnel, or “hogback,” kiln in which the ware was fired. Three generations of Meaders took their stoneware clay from the same local river bank for more than a century, and their traditional alkaline glaze (composed of clay, wood ash, feldspar, and whiting) wasdripped over the vessels to produce a rich, brown finish with shades of black, yellow, and green.Though Meaders loved the old country forms of pots, jars, and churns that had a real connection to rural farm life, as well as, particularly, the jugs used for the illicitmoonshine trade during Prohibition that kept many a country potter in business, Meaders also recognized that the survival of his craft depended upon production of ceramics for a broader audience. He became one of the foremost makers of the extremely popular face jugs that are now a mainstay of the Southern pottery craft.Shaped as a face or as a complete head, with eyes and teeth of the white firing kaolin clay, these humorous (or foreboding) vessels are individual works of art, and take several hours each to complete. Though many Southern folk potters created face jugs, those that bear the imprint of Lanier Meaders’ are among the most highly prized, both for their artistic merit and for the continuing tradition they represent.