Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Putting a new face on Christmas

Posted 11/30/2013 7:15:00 AM

I saw my first Christmas commercial on the day before Halloween. It bothered me so, that I changed the channel. But, there’s no fighting it now. Even before the turkey is chosen for Thanksgiving, we are bombarded with Christmas advertising.

But, if you are traveling, you do need a little heads-up for planning, so here is my contribution to the “Christmas rush.”

The Little Red Barn Pottery and Art Gallery in Barnwell is holding its annual Holiday Artisans Mart this weekend.

The Little Red Barn has been home to Elizabeth Ringus and her Paw Print Pottery for about 15 years. If you are looking for one-of-a-kind art for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your holiday list, this is the place.

Ringus has become part of the South Carolina ceramic face jug tradition.
Face jugs were decorative pottery created in the mid- to late-1800s, mostly in western South Carolina. The jugs were made of local clay with a soft white clay, called kaolin, used for the eyes and teeth. It was a rare form of expression allowed slaves in the area and some say the distorted mask-like faces on the jugs alluded to conjuring powers and other dark arts (back to Halloween, perhaps?)

They were popular with folks wanting a jug that was easy to distinguish from others in the pantry, possibly even to scare kids away from drinking any adult beverage (for medicinal purposes only, of course) that might be stored in the jugs.

For Ringus, her face jugs grew out of her interest in historical crafts from the region, and she does demonstrations for visitors.

Ringus notes that her building itself is a historical monument. Formerly the Leigh Banana Case Commissary, the Little Red Barn was moved to its present location when the Department of Energy was building the nuclear weapons complex known as the Savannah River Site. It is the only store building moved from the area that is still in service as a store.

The Little Red Barn, 12080 U.S. 278, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, but Ringus says if you see her car parked outside, please feel free to stop in for a visit.

For the Holiday Artisan Mart (Nov. 29-30), the gallery will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Call (803) 541-7900 for more information.