BY GINNA PARSONS
BALDWYN – When Megan Cagle was in sixth grade, the art teacher at her elementary school saw talent and promise in the young student. In gifted classes, Cagle did well with pencil drawings and eventually she moved on to oil and pastel paintings.
And while Cagle never lost her love for drawing, it is pottery that fuels her soul these days. And for that, she also has school to thank.
“In 11th grade at Baldwyn High School I was in DECA and you had to have a job and work 10 to 15 hours a week,” said Cagle, 22. DECA is a school-based group that supports the development of marketing and management skills in career areas such as hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration and entrepreneurship. “I went to Saltillo to Amity Pottery and applied, and she hired me.”
While working as a potter's assistant to owner Melissa Mills, Cagle learned how to make hand-built and free-form pottery – everything but pottery that was thrown at the wheel.
That's where her classes at Northeast Mississippi Community College came in to play.
“I was an interior design major and one of the first classes I took was Ceramics 101,” Cagle said. “A piece I made for that class won first place at the school's art show that year.”
Cagle also had to learn to use a wheel to throw pottery for the class, but she threw only two pieces. She later bought a wheel of her own to perfect her skills.
“I'm an artsy-type person,” Cagle said. “My daddy's dream has always been for me to open up a pottery shop.”
And so she did.
Decorative and functional
A couple of summers ago, Cagle worked part time for Eric and Nan Nanney at Flexible Landscapes in Baldwyn. She learned about bedding plants and hanging plants and how to take care of them and did whatever was needed to help out in the garden center.
The following November, when landscape business typically falls off, the Nanneys were looking for something to get people into their shop for Christmas trees and holiday offerings.
“And I stuck my foot right in the door,” Cagle said. With her came her pottery.
The young entrepreneur makes functional pieces, such as bowls, cups, platters and soap dishes, and all are microwave, oven and dishwasher safe. But she also makes decorative pieces, such as crosses, ornaments and candle holders.
A popular item right now are children's handprints and footprints cast in pottery.
“You call before you come so I'm ready for you,” she said. “You bring your child and choose either a flat piece or a ribbon bowl to press their prints into. We can make them to hang on the wall or display on an easel. We can do a smaller size – a single handprint or footprint – that can be made into an ornament.”
Cagle said it takes between four and six weeks to get the finished products back because they have to go through a bisque-firing in a kiln, then they're glazed, then they go back in the kiln for a glaze-firing.
Hurry up and go
If you'd like, you can see or purchase some of Cagle's pottery at her shop in Baldwyn, located across from the old National Guard Armory (365-5333). She's open Tuesdays through Saturdays, but you better go soon. Cagle will be saying her “I Do's” to Adam Hargett on July 29 and she plans to close the shop from July 26 to Aug. 14 for her honeymoon.
Cagle hopes to one day have her pottery in other retail shops in Mississippi so she can build up a bigger clientele. She'd also like to find time to resume her drawing and painting. But one thing's for sure: She'll keep Meg's Mud Hut and Garden Center operating as long as customers keep coming.
“I like to meet people, especially old people, and hear their stories,” she said. “I could not be stuck in an office job. That would just drive me over the edge. If business is good, I'll stay here until I'm old and gray.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at 678-1581 or firstname.lastname@example.org