An internationally known master potter, Vernon Owens was born in 1941 in the famous pottery community of Seagrove, NC. A descendant of a long line of potters, Owens began turning pots as a young child, and has developed and refined the skill through years of observation and practice. Owens has a strong link to the traditional methods of North Carolina pottery as well as the newer pottery methods of the day.
Owens began turning pots professionally in 1960 at Jugtown Pottery, a business known for its quality craftsmanship. In the late 1960s, Owens collaborated with Nancy Sweezy to create safer glazes with lower lead content. Owens purchased Jugtown Pottery in 1983, and since then has maintained its integrity and tradition. He has also preserved the technique of using the old-fashioned groundhog kiln, which burns wood, at Jugtown.
Owens received the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1996. In addition to his "excellent aesthetic eye" and his lifetime commitment to pottery making, Owens was cited for his far-reaching cultural vision of the future prospects and revitalization of the great pottery tradition in Seagrove.