Cooper has been working his magic on clay for the past 29 years at his pottery shop on East Cherokee Drive in Macedonia. Next year, he will celebrate his 30th anniversary in business at his “Cooper Pottery” shop.
Now Cooper will be one of seven people featured in an upcoming book titled “The Potters of Orange,” researched and written by Jim McFarland, a long-time collector of Cherokee County art and antiques.
The book is the story of a century of pottery-making in east-central Cherokee County, showcasing the lives and works of potters and pottery owners Edward L. Stork, Earl Stork, Homer Burns, James P. Reid, Belle Reid, Ron Cooper and Jay Benzel.
The book will include almost 400 photographs of the potters and their families, associates and works.
McFarland hopes the book will enlighten Cherokee County residents about pottery art and culture.
Cooper learned early on that as the raw, malleable clay turns on the potter’s wheel, the potter can fashion the clay into any form he chooses — perhaps a vase, bowl or pitcher.
“Until the pottery is fired in the kiln and subjected to a trial of fire, the potter can return it to its original formless state by simply adding water and mashing it,” Cooper said. “Once properly fired in the kiln, however, the vitrified clay of the finished pottery can never be returned by the potter to its original raw state.”
Cooper, a Bartow County native from Cass Station, was introduced to the pottery business as a 14-year-old teenager, when he took a job at Bill Gordy’s “Georgia Art Pottery” in Cartersville.
Although Cooper didn’t realize it at the time, he says now that his part-time job at the “Georgia Art Pottery” was a priceless apprenticeship which laid the groundwork for his life’s work.
Cooper left Bill Gordy’s employment after graduating from Cass High School in 1963, and went about his life. He married his high-school sweetheart, Maecile Moss, worked at various jobs, served in the U. S. Army in Vietnam, started a family, and in the late 1970s ended up working in management for Kmart Corp.
In 1979, Cooper decided to try his hand at pottery again. He built a makeshift pottery shop in the basement of his home in Woodstock and began making pottery. He continued working for Kmart, while making and selling pottery on the side.
After three or four years, Cooper’s pottery business took off, and he left Kmart to devote all of his time to being a full-time professional potter.
Cooper said that this was a risky move, because he left a good-paying position with many benefits, to pursue a dream which offered no guarantees.
In 1983, Cooper moved with his family to Macedonia, and opened the “Cooper Pottery” at his new home.
And the rest is history. For the next 29 years, Cooper has produced a vast array of pottery in a rainbow of colors — pitchers, vases, jugs, bowls, dinnerware, ring jugs and face jugs.
In addition to celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Cooper Pottery next year, Cooper and his wife, Mae, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
“Mae has been beside me for 50 years, inspiring and encouraging me every step of the way. We and our children, Maria and Ronnie, spent many weekends under a tent, selling pottery at craft festivals and art shows,” Cooper said.
“We have made many friends along the way, and we have many fond memories. One thing I’ve always said is that people who appreciate and buy Cooper pottery are a cut above, and that’s who we do business with.
“Being a potter is my entire life. Most all of my time is devoted to my family and my profession. I dearly love being a potter, and right now I can’t imagine retiring. My life as a potter is a dream come true, and I hope the dream will continue for many more years to come.”