High Tea

Meghan Bernard shows her meticulous process.

It’s easy to casually appreciate Meghan Bernard’s mugs and teapots: they’re found in the highest-end craft venues, including Seasons Gallery at the Omni Grove Park Inn. Her fine porcelain heirlooms are glazed in daydream colors and adorned with whimsically carved dahlias, birds, and berries. One series, “Tea-Bags,” is shaped to look like stylish ladies’ purses, complete with strap handles, exposed studs, and gold clasps.

Bernard is adamant about function, though, and her vessels have work-intensive earthy beginnings. “My process is [to] throw the [clay] on the wheel, let it dry out a little, trim the bottom on the wheel, and then add handles, spouts, and any extras,” she explains. “After the body of the pot is built, I can decide what designs I want in it … using different tools to get both smooth and textured transitions in the surface.” Once the carving is complete, the piece is dried, fired, and layered with glazes that are dipped, poured, and sprayed — and then it’s fired again.

“The process is time consuming,” admits Bernard, “but the end result is worth it. I try to get both a good feel to the pot — something you want to hold and use everyday, as well as something you can still be interested in looking at over time. Why not have a beautiful cup for a daily ritual?”

During the upcoming Henderson County Open Studio Tour, the maker will invite viewers inside her garage space, located south of downtown Hendersonville. She joins 69 other artists throughout the county for the biggest installment in the event’s six-year history.

Growing on its past success, the annual tour presents 12 new studios and 19 new artists this year, encompassing work in clay, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, and woodworking. The artists are grouped into geographic regions or “art pods” — Flat Rock, downtown Hendersonville, Highway 64, Kanuga Road, North Hendersonville, and Zirconia. Last year, the tour drew about 1,500 visitors, 68 percent of them from Henderson County. (About 16 percent came from out of state.) Through a Friday-night preview party and art auction, the event raised $1,800 for Flat Rock Backpack Program, which provides weekend food to area kids.

Bernard surveys her workplace and considers what she needs to do to get ready for guests. “The atmosphere is a bit like an artistic scavenger hunt — we hear from visitors that they never knew there were so many artists in the area,” she says.

“The whole point is to get people into the spaces that the work is made. It’s a bit like pulling back the curtain on the creative process.”

The Henderson County Open Studio Tour happens Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24, 10am-5pm. Meghan Bernard’s studio is part of the Kanuga Road Art Pod, 2004 Old South Carolina Ave. For details and a list of participating venues, see hcost.org.

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