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We were recently featured on Traveling WV a
segment on WCHS a local news station. Follow this link for the Story.
John and Mary discovered the true beauty of almost
heaven on the banks of the New River and Gauley River. Living and
working in the whitewater industry opened their eyes wide to the fluid works of
nature. It seems only logical that they made the transition from
whitewater to pottery.
Mary's Experience on and off the wheel
Mary Bethune began her career in pottery while attending
Marshall University. She instantly fell in love with this craft that
combines both art and science into a magical creation. Mary also
apprenticed with two master potters in her years following her attendance at
Marshall. During those years she worked without influence to let her
own inspirations and instincts guide her to create this unique line of work.
Mary's love for pottery grew out of her love for
whitewater. While attending Towson State University in Maryland, Mary
learned how to roll a kayak in a swimming pool with 4 fellow club members.
With limited whitewater experience Mary had a deep drive to learn more about
this new passion she had found in the kayak. In the summer of 1992 Mary
trained for her first year as a whitewater rafting guide on the Cheat River in
Northern West Virginia. It did not take long for Mary to learn that West
Virginia was where she needed to be. That summer Mary worked in Maryland
coaching a summer swim team and traveled every weekend back to WV to paddle
various creek and rivers across the state. August of that summer Mary
trained to be a video kayaker on the New River followed by working her first
season on the Gauley River. The next semester of college was at Marshall
University were she found pottery. The next few years were spent pursuing both her passions. Mary
worked her summers on the river filming rafting trips and dreaming of
pottery and worked her winters in her pottery studio dreaming of kayaking.
During her career in whitewater Mary focused on filming from her kayak on all sections of the New and
Gauley Rivers. She also
worked as a kayak instructor for beginners up to advanced intermediates for many
of those years. She also took many opportunities to guide rafts on the New and Gauley Rivers.
In 1997 Mary began the transition to pottery full time.
Chasing oar powered rafts down the river no longer intrigued her as much as
becoming a full time potter. Now Mary works full time in her studio with
her husband. Both of them Enjoy the river with family and friends. When you do not find Mary in the studio she is probably spending
time with her three sons and husband John or paddling a local river for a whitewater fix.
For John pottery is much
more than throwing mud into a vessel. To make a career in pottery work
John says you have to
build your business from the ground up with you bare hands; carpenter, electrician,
businessman, photographer and artist, are just some of
the skills needed to make Gauley River Pottery work and thrive. John is a
jack of all trades and trust his instincts to guide him every day, his life experiences have prepared
take up the challenge of being a successful studio potter.
John apprenticed with a master potter for
2 years and studied small business planning, then jumped right into working full time at Gauley River Pottery
born in Fayetteville in the heart of whitewater country. While attending
West Virginia Institute of Technology he learned how to guide whitewater on the New and Gauley Rivers. Soon
a Trip Leader, Fishing Guide and a teacher of whitewater, spending his spring months training new guides and summer months sharing the beautiful canyons of
the New River with guest from around the globe. In the fall months John
was running the Upper Gauley and the winter months learning pottery and working
with his hands on different construction projects. After many years
and well over 1000 commercial trips, John retired from commercial
whitewater to pursue a career in pottery. Now John loves to take
friends whitewater rafting and whitewater fishing in his raft and
welcomes others to come along. John spends his spare time sharing his hobbies with
his three boys. John also enjoys photographing the beautiful scenery of West
Virginia's creeks and rivers.