By Lee Noles
MONROE – Jordan Campbell sits at 47K Marketplace when a patron walks over and enthusiastically shakes the 23-year-old Union County native’s hand. The customer compliments Campbell’s pottery and tells a story of a friend also enjoying the young artisan’s work.
Appreciative, Campbell watches the customer leave and begins to wonder what his grandmother, Selma Krones, would think of the attention. Krones was highly regarded in the Union County pottery community, and Campbell is keeping her legacy alive through his own work following her death from cancer.
“Once I saw my grandmother physically couldn’t make pieces, I knew then I didn’t want what she had created to wither away,” Campbell said. “That was when I made a conscious decision to begin making my own pieces.”
Krones involvement in pottery didn’t happen until after she retired from working for the county’s social services department. She started going to workshops and taking classes with her sister, Pauline Lamal, who studied art in college and taught in the art department at Central Piedmont Community College for 30 years. Krones eventually opened Dove Pottery and named it after her family.
Campbell literally followed his grandmother’s footsteps by walking with her as a child to the shop behind her house where he played with clay while she worked on pieces. Campbell’s grandfather, Peter, began to show him proper techniques so he could create his own work.
“I remember I made a bowl with some coils for design,” Campbell said. “I was 6. It wasn’t worthy of being sold, but that was the first I remember creating a piece.”
Everything changed for Campbell and his family in 2015 when Krones was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. She was in hospice care quickly after the diagnosis and passed away a few weeks later.
“Days were like seconds,” Campbell said. “It happened so quickly.”
The death of his grandmother filled Campbell with a resolve to become a potter. He returned to Krones’ workshop and taught himself through trial and error. The biggest hurdle was learning how to mold the clay when it was on the wheel into a design he wanted. Campbell took what he learned from his grandmother while also developing his own style.
“It’s like anything,” Campbell said. “You get roadblocks, then you have breakthroughs.”
He started selling his work at the Matthews Farmers Market. Campbell continued with Krones’ own business by supplying work to a shop in Piper Glen. He also added a restaurant in Belmont by creating the establishment’s dinnerware.
“That was when I started becoming content with what I was doing,” Campbell said. “If a restaurant wanted my work, then I was happy.”
The success still wasn’t enough to convince Campbell to try his hand at pottery full time. He left Union County in 2018 to pursue a nursing career in Wilmington with his fiancée but returned not even a year later because of his family and to continue his grandmother’s work. He aptly named the business, Dove Pottery.
One of his favorite ideas from his grandmother was using a lace tablecloth that has been in the family for more than 100 years. He places the cloth’s embroidery over the clay to form a pattern. Campbell then removes the cloth and places the clay in the kennel, permanently imprinting the design
He also uses his own ideas by taking a plate and dipping three-fourths of it into a certain glaze. Campbell then repeats the steps with the other side of the plate. Campbell is also continuing what his grandmother started by using what he knows to teach other people, just as she did with him.
“It’s very important to me.” Campbell said. “It’s me continuing on what my grandparents established.”