Our Potters

Our gallery features the work of two full-time, in-house potters who make, glaze, and fire all their work right here in our Balsam, NC studio. We also carry the work of local artists who live and work in Western North Carolina. All the pieces listed in our online shop were made on-site in our Balsam studio. Read on to learn more about our potters and featured artists.

Brad Dodson
Owner / Studio Potter

Brad grew up immersed in the world of pottery, or as he likes to call it, playing in clay. His parents, John and Sybil Dodson, opened the first Mud Dabbers shop in Brevard in 1988. Some of Brad's first creations were hand-sculpted gnomes called Brandons, which he sold while attending college at Appalachian State. An avid runner throughout his school years, Brad earned his first degree in physical education. After graduating, however, his passion for working in clay led him to enroll in the Professional Crafts program at Haywood Community College with an emphasis in clay, where he honed his talents and gained the skills necessary to market his craft.

In 1997, Brad opened his own Mud Dabbers location in Balsam, North Carolina, within walking distance of his home. He continues to specialize in hand-built pieces ranging from functional to sculptural. His Brandons have grown into a collectible series dubbed Appalachian Climbing Gnomes. Years of living in the mountains have given him a fascination with the archetypal mountain man, which he expresses in his Hill Spirit series of jugs, masks, and mugs, all featuring unique, handsculpted faces inspired by the idea of the rugged man of the mountains. All Brad's pieces communicate a sense of character and lightheartedness, which stems from the joy Brad finds in his work.

When not making pottery, Brad enjoys spending time with his wife, Judy, and their two teenage daughters. He still loves running and serves as a cross-country coach for local students during his spare time.

A selection of Brad's work is available in our online shop.

Mark Karner
Studio Production Potter

Mark Karner (right) with Brad Dodson shortly
after the two potters began working together.
Mark Karner has been a professional potter since 1995. He grew up in Michigan and later moved to Durango, Colorado, where he studied pottery during college. After graduating in 1994, he moved to Tennessee for an apprenticeship opportunity and met his wife, Anne. The two relocated to Balsam, North Carolina, where they lived in a historic farmhouse while building their own home as well as a studio for Mark on the property. Fiery Gizzard Pottery opened in October 1999, just one mile up the road from Mud Dabbers Pottery. Over the course of 15 years running neighboring businesses, Brad and Mark developed a friendship. In fall of 2013, when Brad needed a production potter to keep pace with his growing business, the two potters decided to merge their talents.

Mark has been making functional, heirloom-quality stoneware pottery at Mud Dabbers since 2014. He has enriched the Mud Dabbers glaze palette with his rare copper reds, which he diligently pursued over the course of his career. Mark occasionally incorporates Japanese brush techniques into his glazing, often tracing a gently curving line across each piece to create the effect of a winding river or mountain peaks. He also collaborates with Brad on the series of Appalachian face jugs and mugs. Mark brings an invaluable aesthetic sense to our showroom and studio.

Outside the studio, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife and their two young children. He and his family especially love camping, hiking, and spending time in the mountains.

A selection of Mark's work is available in our online shop.

Susan Peterson
Studio Potter / Repair Artist

Susan had an exciting career as a set designer for major television and motion picture productions such as Miami Vice, before relocating to Balsam, North Carolina with her son and becoming the Dodsons' neighbor. Susan has been involved with Mud Dabbers for many years, helping with clerking and also selling her handmade jewelry and small hand-sculpted Dewdrop Gnomes & Critters. Susan's design background gives her excellent repair skills. She's always happy to consult with anyone interested in having a broken piece patched and repaired.

Susan's work is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Melissa Dunn
Studio Potter

Melissa Dunn graduated from the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts program in 2014. She now lives and works in Marion, North Carolina, producing vibrant porcelain pieces in celadon glazes. She has traveled to China multiple times, gaining inspiration for her work as a potter as well as an enhanced design perspective. We're thrilled to carry a selection of her mugs, bowls, canisters, and other functional pieces to brighten your kitchen.

Melissa's work is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Steve Wampler

Steve lives and works in Waynesville, North Carolina. When he isn't too busy with his full-time job as a teacher, he crafts hand-turned woodwork, ranging from magic wands, spinning tops, and old-time games to elegant utensils and even pens.

Steve's work is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Sandra Bowling
Basket Weaver

Sandra does all her weaving with long-leaf pine needles, which she gathers at her parents' home on Ocracoke Island off the North Carolina coast. She lives in the Waynesville area and often collaborates with shop owner Brad Dodson to create pieces that incorporate pottery with woven elements.

Sandra's work is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Honey pictured with honeypot by Mark
Karner and dipper by Steve Wampler
Black Bear Honey
Based in Franklin, North Carolina, Black Bear Honey provides a variety of raw, unfiltered honeys from hives that have foraged locally in the Jackson and Haywood County areas. Depending on the season, we often have sourwood, wildflower, clover, and locust honeys, including dark varieties and jars with the honeycomb inside.

Black Bear Honey is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Mike & Cindy Farley
Studio Potters
Mike and Cindy are longtime friends of the Dodson family as well as experienced potters. Based in Brevard, North Carolina, they share their lovely functional  pieces with us, including dip coolers and hand-carved luminaries. Mike & Cindy's pieces are available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Brandon Williams
Third-Generation Potter

As the grandson of Mud Dabbers founder John O. Dodson, and the nephew of current owner Brad Dodson, Brandon Williams has been immersed in clay his whole life. Currently in college, he has contributed his hand-built pottery to our showroom from a young age. His small handmade leaves, pinch pots, and hand-built bowls are longtime favorites of our customers!

Roger DiNofa

Roger DiNofa is a freelance artist living in Waynesville, North Carolina. His acrylic and watercolor paintings feature scenes inspired by the character of the small towns and mountains that surround him.

Roger's artwork is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Haley Wolfe
Haley has been helping with clerking, shipping, product photography, social  media marketing, web design, and puppy-sitting since 2012. She also offers her photography for sale as framed prints and cards. All her photos feature locations in Western North Carolina, so they make great souvenirs or gifts for your local friends.

Haley's photography is available in the Mud Dabbers showroom.

Michael Beadle
Local poet Michael Beadle found inspiration in our handmade Appalachian face mugs and used them as the cover for his book Friends We Haven't Met. Be sure to pick up a copy next time you're visiting our shop in Balsam, NC!

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