This Alabama Potter Carves Meaning Into Every Piece

Photography by Mac Jamieson

Text by Bethany Adams

Larry Allen nearly gave up on pottery. Although his richly hued, award-winning pieces now appear in shows across the country, his first introduction to the craft—a class on hand-building at his local college—didn’t go well. “I hated it,” he recalls.

Larry Allen
Photography by Mac Jamieson

But an experience at the pottery department of Berea College in Kentucky changed everything. “One of the garage doors was open, and one of the apprentices was throwing a cider jug,” Larry says. “And I’ll never forget it.”

It was the first time he had seen anyone throwing pottery on a wheel, and he says that lightning struck. Now, he works as a full-time potter out of his studio at Cahaba Clayworks, creating everything from bowls to teapots to urns. Heightened with rich red and blue glazes, his work features intricate patterns inspired by Native American and African designs.