Pottery, Gifts and Bistro is, at present, the newest business to
locate in the city of Gleason, having opened its doors for business during the
first week of July 2016.
L-R: Gleason Mayor Diane Poole, Maria McClain and Bro
Jim Keeling, owners of Earthen Vessels
Mayor Poole welcomes the
Gleason by being their first customer
The owners of
this new business are Mr. Jim
Keeling and his daughter Maria McLain. Mr. Keeling, a native of West
Kentucky, has been in the ministry for over 50 years, serving
as a pastor and, along with his wife Dee, as a missionary in Alaska
and the West Indies. He currently lives in Newbern, Tennessee and is
known by many Tennesseans as “The Preaching Potter”, who has used
his outstanding skills at the potter’s wheel as a ministry to
illustrate Biblical truth.
The location of this
business is very fitting in that its focus is on products made from clay, a mineral that is mined in
large quantities in Gleason. The city of Gleason is
internationally known for its large deposits of one specific type of
clay, referred to as “ball clay”, an extremely rare mineral that is
found in very few places around the world. Indeed, many
consider Gleason the Ball Clay capital of the world.
Here, it can be noted
that the role of the clay industry in Gleason has a long history,
with the first clay in Gleason being dug back in 1926, from the W. R.
Crawford farm, about two miles west of Gleason. During the past 90 years,
ball clay has been continually shipped around the world with
Gleason’s three clay companies continuing to work hard to meet the
world-wide demand for Gleason’s very special type of clay.
The demand for ball
clay is so great because of its fired color and
because of its unique composition that adds strength and plasticity
to various types of products that many of us use every day.
Given the ready
availability of ball clay in the area, and the suitability of this
specific type of clay for making fine pottery and other items,
Gleason is a perfect match for
of business. It should be noted that
generous contributions from Imery's Ceramics, in Gleason has made it
possible for Mr. Keeling to continue to have all of the quality ball
clay he will need to make the fine pottery he prides himself in
In terms of
products, Mr. Keeling has used his
talents to develop a wide selection of items that will be made
available to the Gleason community.
Each of the
items that carries the Keeling “Makers Mark” is guaranteed to
contain ball clay that has been mined right here in Gleason,
notes that "we are very pleased
that these items made from Gleason ball clay can be made available to the residents of Gleason
as well as others who desire to own a little piece of Gleason
The business will not
only serve as a place where people can purchase a bit of Gleason
history by getting top-of-the-line pottery made from Gleason ball
clay but it will also feature tables and chairs where patrons
can enjoy freshly ground coffee along with delicious gourmet cupcakes and
muffins to go with the fresh coffee in a comfortable relaxing
atmosphere. Here, Mr. Keeling’s daughter Maria McLain provides
the cupcakes, muffins and coffee along with other tasty delights.
Also featured will be
Goat Milk soap as well as homemade jams, jellies and preserves
along with custom made cakes courtesy of Mr. Keeling's grand-daughter in law,
All food and drink
items will be served using tableware that Mr. Keeling has produced using
Gleason Ball Clay.
For those who might be interested,
this new business also has the facilities for teaching pottery classes
provided by Mr. Keeling.
Earthen Vessels Pottery Gifts &
Bistro is a great new addition to the Gleason Business community. Be
sure and drop by and welcome Mr. Keeling and his family to this
great little town. And get a taste of some of the goodies the store
has to offer and see some of the fine ball clay products that he has
on display. (Story by Jim Johnson).