Cats plus pottery plus a working studio off the beaten path (mine, at least) equals intrigue. Really, it was the cathedral window-looking decor on the side of a little red building and the sign, “Dirt Roads Pottery,” that made me turn around in the next church parking lot and double back to see what it was about and if an artist was there.
Two neat and trim, red, wooden buildings are what you first see when you pull off Highway 16 in Edinburg, Mississippi, and into the gravel parking lot. A lounging cat or two lifts its head to stare at you. Potter Sharon Grimes (born 1957, Memphis, Tennessee) introduced me to Pumpkin and to Little Bit and told me I was welcomed to look around in the showroom and to take pictures.
The newest building at Dirt Roads Pottery is the red showroom that caught my eye from Highway 16. Hundreds of glazed earthenware platters and bowls of various sizes with ruffled rims filled the shelves. There were also crosses on the shelves and ceramic spoons perched in the bowls. One of her glazes is as red as that crimson wax that people once dripped onto the back of their envelopes to seal them. Patterns are pressed into some of the platters.
On her compound are three small showrooms, one of them open air, and a small brick house where the pottery is shaped, dried, glazed, and fired. Older outbuildings, such as a carport, shop, and garden sheds, are home to 22 or 23 cats, “all feral but a few.” She has them spade and neutered. “Part of the money from the pottery goes to the cats,” she says. Her nephew found Little Bit with a broken hip at the Carthage airport and brought her to Grimes, who paid for the kitten’s surgery. “Right now, no cat is turned away. My brother traps them. If people are going to destroy them, he’ll save them.”
How Sharon Grimes learned pottery on the internet and how she makes a living today in the pottery business will be the topic of Dirt Roads Pottery part two.
For more information, visit www.dirtroadspottery.com. Thank you to Sharon Grimes for permitting Mississippi Byways to reproduce images of her pottery and some of her photographs of the Dirt Roads Pottery studio compound.