The Grand Opening of The Phoenix Factory on May 5th was a resounding success. Over 125 friends, family, and well-wishers gathered for this ambrosial night filled with good food and fellowship. The tables groaned under the weight of so many delicious delicacies that were prepared by some of the most talented cooks in Edgefield County. A special thank you is extended to Carol Wingeier, Pamela Moore, Rebecca Turner, Joanne Moody, Michael King, Gloria Bynum, Gwen Spivey, Max and Jeannie Shanks, and Rae Guy for supplying the majority of the refreshments.
The festivities began at 4:00 p. m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Master Potter Justin Guy and Edgefield Preservation Association President Max Shanks. This was followed by a presentation of gifts to Justin to help him celebrate this great occasion. Tonya Guy gave him with four lovely “Phoenix Rising” plates that were given by Ms. Helen Feltham and a framed shadow box that contained the three ribbons Justin won last year in the Palmetto Hands competition in North Charleston. Pamela Moore then presented Justin with a beautiful portrait of himself that he immediately hung on the wall next to the portrait of Stephen Ferrell (also painted by Ms. Moore).
Then, at 6:00 p. m., Justin Guy entertained the audience by telling how he came to Old Edgefield Pottery many years ago to apprentice under Stephen Ferrell and has now come full circle. He stressed the importance of continuing this tradition which is such a part of Edgefield history. Justin then delighted the spectators by showing many interesting pieces in the Pottery Museum section and amazed them with his vast knowledge of this unique art form. Justin also revealed why he named the new pottery studio “The Phoenix Factory.” He named it after a pottery that was operated by two well-known Edgefield potters, Collin Rhodes and Thomas Chandler, in the early 1840s. Justin went on to explain that this name is appropriate because he feels that he is rising from the ashes like a Phoenix to bring forth a whole new era in the Edgefield Pottery tradition.
It was such a joyous occasion and so many people are to be thanked for making this opening possible. A great debt of gratitude is owed the Edgefield Civic League and the Edgefield Preservation Association, who supported Justin from the very beginning and assisted in the restoration of the pottery building. A special thank you also to George Wingard, who brought the famous Dave pot that is featured in the award-winning documentary Discovering Dave: Spirit Captured in Clay, and Mayor Ken Durham and Edgefield County Councilman Albert Talbert are appreciated for taking time from their busy schedules to attend. So many other wonderful friends and family were on hand to share in this event that it is impossible to mention them all. The most important were Justin’s parents, Bill and Rae Guy, who have always believed in him and supported his dreams. They even bought him a potter’s wheel when he was thirteen-years-old. His grandmother thought they were crazy and asked them why they did it. The answer is clear—it was his destiny. The Phoenix Factory is now open for business Monday through Friday from 9:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. and on Saturday by appointment.