The People:
Maude Welch

Maude French Welch (1894–1953) was was born near Cooper's Creek in the Birdtown section of the Qualla Boundary. In the 1920s she lived in South Carolina, where she met some of the most accomplished of Catawba potters. Returning to the Qualla Boundary, Welch began producing pottery in earnest and was quickly rewarded. Her work, sought-after and prizewinning, allowed her to contribute to the household income. While largely self-taught, Welch continued to add to her reportoire of traditional pottery forms and sometimes added hand-shaped embellishments. Welch used a variety of tools to shape her pottery and used the same polishing stone for more than twenty-five years. She briefly experimented with pottery kilns, but abandoned the practice because customers preferred her signature mottled tan and smoky-black pottery, achieved by more traditional methods. A 1935 report on pottery called her “the most talented potter on the Reservation,” and some contend that Welch led the revival of potters’ art among the Cherokee.

Read more about Maude Welch on the Cherokee Traditions website.