Art in the Garden: The Pottery of Betty Owen

Inspired by the wooden birdhouses and feeders crafted by her late father, North Carolina potter Betty Owen handmakes her Forever Birdhouses and Feeders from clay.

Betty’s father passed away from cancer in 2004. To honor her father’s memory, Betty decided to create her own interpretation of his designs through her pottery.

Betty donated her first pottery birdhouse to the Randolph County Hospice, a charity also supported by her father, for a fund-raising auction. Her very first clay birdhouse was one of the highest selling items at the event.

Since that time, Betty has continued to design and perfect her pottery with dimensional details such as flowers and vines in beautiful colors. Handmade from raw clay, each piece is a unique work of art that will never be duplicated.

The clay pieces are allowed to dry for up to two weeks, then fired to a bisque state and allowed to cool. Once this is complete Betty hand paints all the glazes over the entire piece and then fires it again to a temperature of 2200 degrees. This means that the clay is free of any water and perforations where water can enter, thereby allowing the pieces to remain outside through the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer.

Betty's birdhouses and feeders are also very practical and easy to maintain.

Each Forever Birdhouse is divided into eight separate living areas. With the heat resistance of the pottery, old nests can easily be burned out with a match at the end of each nesting season. This will also destroy any mites left behind by the previous birds.

The Forever Feeders are designed to provide a secure fly-through feeding environment. To keep away the squirrels, there is an optional vinyl sleeve to fit over your 4 x 4 post.

There is a drainage hole in the bottom of the feeder. The water resistance of the pottery and glaze, along with the the drainage hole, help to prevent excess moisture from building up in the feed.

In addition to the Forever Birdhouses and Feeders, Betty makes other styles of birdhouses, feeders, toad houses, and other art pottery for the garden.

Betty and her husband, Brian, make their home in Sanford, North Carolina. For more information on Betty's work, please visit Owen Clayworks.

Story by Freda Cameron. Photos provided by Owen Clayworks.



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