Sara Ayers: Grandfather | Digital Traditions
Ayers discusses the role of her grandfather in her pottery making.
Sara Ayers was a highly accomplished Catawba potter who exemplified the major artistic tradition of South Carolina's earliest residents. Daughter of David A. Harris, chief of the Catawba Nation from 1905 to 1917, Ayers learned to make pottery from her sisters and under the tutelage of her grandmother. She made pottery in the traditional Catawba manner, gathering several types of clay in locations that have been the customary digging sites for generations.
She formed the pieces by hand and rubbed them smooth using stones and tools that were used by her grandmother. Ayers' skill allowed her to build the large wedding jugs, water jugs, and cooking vessels that her grandmother and other Catawba potters excelled. She also decorated her pottery with animal effigies and faces that are traditional within her family and community. For over forty years she and her husband Foxx Ayers, also a Catawba, sold pottery to people in South Carolina and other eastern states. Ayers received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1989.