W.J. (William/Bill) Gordy
Birth Date: May 18, 1910
Death Date: August 19, 1993
Artist Gallery
William J. Gordy (Bill/W.J. Gordy) was born in Aberdeen, Georgia in 1910. His father was a potter who owned his own business, and Bill was making his own pottery by the time he was 14 years old. His father had a large wood kiln that Bill learned how to use. He also learned from the potters hired by his father from around the country and read every book he could find about glazes. The clay they used came from the Flint River in Georgia. Bill left his father's shop and worked in several pottery businesses in North Carolina and Georgia, seeing and learning new techniques. These experiences helped him develop his own style. By 1935, Bill had married and opened his own pottery studio beside the Dixie Highway in Georgia. His shop became a favorite for tourists traveling along the Dixie Highway, and his name became quite well known. Gordy was one of the first potters in Georgia to transition from a functional, utilitarian style to an artistic style. He developed a style that was quite unique - while still functional, his pieces are beautiful enough to be displayed as art. Gordy not only had his own signature style of pottery, but also created his own blend of clay and exclusive glazes. Although he had begun with clay from the Flint River area, his blends grew to include Georgia Kaolin, Ohio stoneware, Ohio red clay, and Kentucky ball clay. He was also the first Georgian potter to use colors in his glazes. He experimented with chrome, cobalt, tin and zirconium, silica, talc, feldspar, bentonite, copper, lime, and many other chemicals to produce different colors and textures. He even experimented with the placement of various colors and various locations in the kiln. The beautiful honeyed golden brown he called ‘Mountain Gold’ became his trademark color. He also produced unique variations of blue, another favorite of collectors, and he developed unusual shades of pink and turquoise. In 1955, he stopped using a wood kiln in favor of gas. W.J. Gordy is estimated to have single-handedly produced around a million pots during his lifetime. For twenty years, he sold everything that he made. Even though his work was very popular, he refused to cut corners and mass produce pieces, even when Rich's wanted to contract for his work. Here was a man whose work had made it into the Smithsonian, yet he never raised prices and always remained humble.