Nestled peacefully in the quiet hills of North Mississippi sits a delightful little pottery studio. The artisans in residence are the mother and daughter team of Lynn Barnwell and Rebecca McCalla. Rebecca’s children, Devin, Raven, and Riley, also lend a hand, making this a truly home-grown family business.
Lynn, affectionately known as Mawmaw, and her daughter, Rebecca, started Hinkle Creek Pottery back in 1999 after attending a pottery class; they have been in love with clay ever since.
A self-described military brat, Lynn travelled the world before landing in Corinth, Mississippi. Originally intended as a temporary home while her husband served in Korea, they still reside there today, 32 years later. “We fell in love with Mississippi and are proud to call Corinth our home,” Lynn said. “It has been a great place to raise our family. Both my children and their spouses live within 3 miles of the studio, and all 5 of my grandchildren are around all the time,” she added.
Prior to the pottery business, Lynn worked in the electrical supply industry, but the siren song of the clay could not be ignored, “I decided to quit my job to stay home and play in the “mud” and watch my grandchildren grow,” Lynn said.
It was 1974 when Lynn bought her very first piece of pottery, a hanging planter with a macramé holder. “[I] could not afford it but had to have it. It sits in my showroom still.”, she said. Lynn also has the very first pottery cup she made in class. “I thought it was amazing (then), but did not know it would shrink; it holds a whole 3.5 ounces!” The cup sits by her pottery wheel, a reminder of her pottery journey. “It is one of the first things I show to my pottery students, especially if their first mug is bigger.”
Since being converted from a garage, the studio boasts double doors and windows to let in the natural light. The main area houses multiple pottery wheels, tools, and supplies, while the glazing room houses the kilns. “I can open the doors in the front and back and have natural air conditioning as it acts as an old-fashioned dog run, which my two dogs take full advantage of,” she explains. The studio’s canine advisers are Sarge, an Australian cattle dog, and his partner is Lola, a black lab. “Living in the country, all the strays seem to migrate to my door.”
The biggest challenge of the pottery business for Lynn is the critical timing. There is an optimum time for each step of the process which requires some juggling. “If handles need to be put on at midnight, you put them on at midnight,” she said.
Lynn’s favorite time to work is after her husband “starts snoring in front of the TV at night, until about midnight.” The very best part of her work, however, is being in business with her daughter and working with her grandchildren. “That, and being able to work in my pajamas.” she admits!
Hinkle Creek Pottery focuses on functional pieces for everyday use for food service and storage, including dinnerware – plates, bowls, mugs, bathroom sets, and more. Supporting the work of The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary in Tupelo, Lynn has donated bowls to their annual Empty Bowls fund-raiser for the past 10 years.
Pottery is not just a business for Lynn; she takes great care and pride in her work, creating a lasting pieces of quality, functional art, designed to be passed from her hands to yours. “I hope when a customer buys one of our pots that they can feel the passion that went in to each item,” says Lynn, noting that in hard times people have more of an attachment to something created by hand than to a mass-produced item. “I guess it is because they have to limit what they spend and each purchase has to mean something,” she reasons. “I hope each piece of Hinkle Creek Pottery has a special meaning for the next recipient.”
The pottery studio, attached to Lynn’s home in a rural area of Alcorn County, Mississippi, lies just below the house on the east side. If you’re ever in the area, Lynn invites you to “Come see what we create just up the hill from the creek.”
By Miranda Jordan
Taken from Magnolia State of Mind 2014 edition. The official magazine of the Mississippi Craft Show. www.magnoliastateofmind.com
About the Mississippi Craft Show
Mississippi Craft Show – August. The state’s only 100% Mississippi Handmade art and craft show. Featuring handworks from Mississippi craftsmen. www.mscraftshow.com
Handmade USA Show – March. The same quality handworks you expect at the August show from Mississippi craftsmen and also from across the region. All 100% handmade in the USA. www.handmadeusashow.com