Lenoir City business crafts 'durable' art pottery pieces

 KRISTIN FARLEY-6 News Anchor/Reporter

Benjamin Qualls says touch is the key to this creation.LENOIR CITY (WATE) - If you're looking for some stoneware, a luminary, or maybe a one-of-a-kind handmade gift, a Lenoir City business may have just what you need.

Benjamin Qualls and Melissa Ball make hand thrown pottery at Stony Clay Station, 10389 Highway 11E. 

It's art that's durable enough to be every day dinnerware. "We are at the upper tier of stoneware," Ball told us. "It is microwave, dishwasher and oven safe."

Ball started the business in 2008. Now she spends nearly 70 hours a week in the studio. With one look you can see she doesn't cut corners, doing even the finest detail by hand.

Stony Clay Station also makes all their own glazes resulting in individual, vibrant colors. "I never get bored with this. It is always a challenge. I always come up with new techniques," Ball laughed. "It never gets old."

The day Made in Tennessee visited, Ball was working on a large pot with three handles. It's a design she has won awards for.

Qualls was working on throwing clay for another creation. He also took time to explain how long it can take to make just one piece.

"We hand throw a piece on a potter's wheel. After it's made, we wait 24 hours for modifications. Then it needs to dry 24-36 hours after that. Then it needs to go into a kiln for initial firing, which hardens it enough for initial glazing," he said.

Qualls and Ball were getting ready for another busy summer season at local farmer's markets, which are more than just a place to sell their wares. They also help cultivate a sense of community.

In fact, the artists often make items intentionally to compliment other things you might find for sale at market. "So we do berry bowls, garlic pots, onion pots, outdoor luminaries and baking dishes," Ball said.

Stony Clay Station has a storefront right off Highway 11E. It's open five days a week, and they invite everyone to visit. 

They will also take custom orders, but remember one piece alone can take more than two weeks to make.