Mabel "Bigmeat" Swimmer
Birth Date: 1925
Death Date: 1991
Artist Gallery
The Bigmeat name is synonymous with Cherokee pottery in North Carolina. Charlotte Welch Bigmeat (1887 -1959) was steeped in the pottery tradition. Charlotte and her husband, Robert Bigmeat, raised five daughters and a son. Each of her five daughters (Tiney, Ethel, Elizabeth, Mabel and Louise), also became potters. All of the girls became potters at one time or another in their lives. Like many of their contemporaries, the Bigmeats worked outdoors, Charlotte would gather clay from a local river bank, shoveling it out of a huge pit and carrying it four miles back to her home. They usually worked under a tree in the yard; visitors could purchase directly and perhaps watch them making their wares. Joel Queen, a grandson to Charlotte is carrying on the tradition yet today. Mabel Bigmeat Swimmer demonstrated for visitors at the Oconaluftee Indian Village expressing an interest in the sustainability of creating pots. She eventually moved away from North Carolina to Flint, Michigan, but she continued to make pottery. She regularly brought home her pottery to fire and sell at the local North Carolina craft shops. “I enjoy doing this work,“ Mabel said, “and hope that it will continue to be a part of our Cherokee culture in the years ahead.”