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A Rising Star in Smoky Mountain Pottery

Though she’s a talented member of the Art Walk Gallery in Knoxville and Tindell’s Craft Guild, you won’t find Millie Derrick’s work in a storefront that bears her name. Her Smoky Mountain Pottery style is eclectic and she prefers inviting you over for a visit as you shop from the pieces she’s gathered from her collection just for you.

A potter on and off for almost 30 years, Millie has been creating beautiful pieces since the age of about 23. She started potting when she took a class as an elective. An encouraging teacher that saw something in the first teapot she created urged her to keep creating, something her dedicated clients are very glad occurred. “That teapot looks nothing like what I do now, but somehow my teacher saw something and strongly encouraged me. The more I do, the better I feel about it.” She wants to create quality artwork and knows the proper techniques for make great pieces, but she will also tell you that the artistic part of her work is purely creative, something you cannot plan.

For the last four years, Derrick has steadily practiced pottery and built her clientele in and around the Sevier and Knox County areas.  Millie came to Sevier County from Churchill, TN as a young teen after her oldest sister sought a summer job here. The next few years (starting circa 1978) would find Millie, and two of her sisters, working in Sevier County and developing a love for the beautiful Smoky Mountains that are its backdrop.

After obtaining her art degree, Millie found herself even more drawn to Sevier County and it became home. The influence of the environment is apparent in those things she creates. Her favorite colors resonate with others who love the Smokies—auburns, deep reds, dark blues, and turquoise. She will admit that her sister has added some lovely purple and slate glazes to the mix of her color pallet, however. She’ll smile as she tells you that her pottery offers up some view into the way she thinks, “It’s busy,” and Millie’s pottery is nothing if not dynamic, “Pottery is where how I think works.”
When asked, “What’s next?” Millie mulls the idea of learning to paint to some extent, but also admits that perhaps non-three-dimensional art is not her thing, though making soap is something she’d like to try her hand at, along with continuing the other things she currently enjoys, like baking. Millie Derrick currently averages about 3-4 hours in her studio, with occasional days on which she’s able to put in more time, perhaps a solid ten hours every few days to make up for those days she can’t get into the studio at all.

In addition, Millie likes to spend time teaching the basics to aspiring potters. Classes include those to create platters, bowls, and coils.  You can email Millie at milliederrick@yahoo.com to view the items she has crafted. Many of them can be seen on her Facebook Page. All of her work is food, dishwasher, and microwave safe, and smaller pieces start at $8-10. larger, more ornate piece are still priced quite competitively.  You’ll find an assortment of items available including ornaments, mugs, ring plates, platters, pasta dishes, and even owls and birdhouses. Whether you’re looking for a special gift this holiday, or want to add a smashing touch of great artwork to your own home, Millie Derrick’s pottery is a great place to start.