Pickenpaugh Pottery


Just as spring flowers bloom every year, Robert Pickenpaugh of Pickenpaugh Pottery makes his signature clay flowers in time for the season but this year be a particularly special run.

Pickenpaugh founded the business in 1973 with his wife Merry. Fifty years later they are Madison’s oldest business operated by the original owner.

To mark the occasion, Robert will stamp everything they make and sell this year with a special 50th-anniversary stamp. 

Robert has always signed his pottery and started dating his pieces in the early eighties. In 1998 on the occasion of the store’s 25th anniversary, he developed the idea of a commemorative stamp to mark the occasion.

This includes their signature flowers, every one unique, which Robert is in a rush to make enough to sell for Easter.

Robert first encountered pottery during his time at Delta State where he studied photography. His faculty advisor, Kent Prince, signed him up for pottery. Robert said he took to the craft quickly and was informed by his professor, Malcolm Norwood, that he had an “A” in the class after the first day and that he was a “natural” potter. He would then change his major to Art and spend all his free time in the pottery lab, roughly 80 hours a week at his most obsessive.

“I’m not afraid of clay because I see it as a basic element from which both simple and complex art forms can be developed,” Robert is quoted saying in a booklet he had made in 1998 commemorating the business's 25th anniversary. “I receive a certain joy from taking something as abundant and plain as dirt and creating a vessel that is both utilitarian and aesthetic. The potter is the creator of the vessel and therefore can put into it heart, soul and feelings. I am hampered only by whatever limitations I impose on myself and my own imagination. When imagination is lost, I believe, its void is replaced with complaints and other forms of negative energy.” 

Since its opening Pickenpaugh Pottery has had two locations on Main Street in Madison including the one they inhabit today at 2034 Main Street which is flanked by Pickenpaugh Lane, which was renamed in the store’s honor around 2015.

Robert is also the last living charter member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi.