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Woman finds calling in clay
Local artist Cathy Mozley holds a deviled egg platter shaped into a University of Georgia logo that she crafted from clay. - photo by Autumn McBride

  Standing next to one of her “Porch People,” Cathy Mozley said she doesn’t know how she imagines the macabre sculptures.

“Whenever somebody sees these — what I call my ghoulie guys — they say, ‘Where do you get those ideas?’ And I say I don’t know,” Mozley said. “But I sell more of this kind than I do of the others.”

The Forsyth County potter has led a life filled with art and adventure, which comes alive in her creations.

She began to pursue pottery as more than a hobby at the urging of her four daughters. They encouraged her to market the patent-pending Tooth Fairy’s Treasures, which are designed to display children’s baby teeth.

While some people may think that’s a little strange, Mozley said it’s a way to hold on to the teeth, something many mothers do anyway.

Mozley also designs more typical pottery works, such as vases, wind chimes and serving plates.

It’s evident that Mozley works from her home, where wind chimes hang from the porch and the dozens of tooth jugs are on display in the garage.

She begins most of her pottery from a slab of clay “because then I can stop and start.”

Though Mozley has dabbled in several forms of art throughout her life, pottery is a relatively new venture.

A few years ago, she decided to take a pottery class near her workplace in Duluth to break up the monotony of going to work and coming home.

“It was the first thing I think I’ve ever done in my life that I couldn’t just look at somebody doing it and do it right away,” she said.

“Pottery took the most work to learn ... but after I finally got the feel for it, I just loved it.”

At first, she used her new craft to make Christmas and birthday gifts for friends and family, including the tooth jugs for her daughters.

A friend’s request led to “K-9 Chimes,” a popular creation in which different dog breeds are featured on wind chimes.

Wendy Shepherd, who owns two Airedale dogs, asked Mozley if she could make some wind chimes with her beloved breed.

Shepherd said she was thrilled with the creation, which her fellow Airedale owners also adored.

Mozley and Shepherd have been friends for about a decade.

At the time, Mozley worked as the activities director at a retirement community where Shepherd’s mom stayed.

“She did such wonderful things and made such wonderful meals and surprises,” Shepherd said. “I didn’t know she was that talented [in making pottery.]”

Shepherd encouraged her friend to begin selling her homemade items.

For now, Mozley attends craft shows and sells her work mostly by word of mouth to pay for art supplies.

At 8 years old, she used the same system to continue her sewing hobby.

Raised on a farm in a small northwest Florida town, Mozley said she’s always been the crafty and earthy type.

She got a degree in home economics and began working as an extension agent in Florida.

During the taping of a local TV show, Mozley recalled causing a cameraman to faint while she explained how to properly clean a rattlesnake.

Even while exploring her agricultural roots, Mozley said she used the rattlesnake skin as a craft by making belts.

Next, she moved to South Carolina, where she owned a successful flower shop for nine years.

Mozley left the business to focus on raising her four daughters: Ashley, Andrea, Ariel and April.

She home-schooled the girls when they were younger and passed on some of her artsy style.

“All my girls are really crafty and creative because they had a chance to do that,” Mozley said.

Her daughters are now grown and work primarily in artistic fields. Three of them live in Forsyth County and the youngest in Buford.

Andrea Craighead, Mozley’s second born, co-owns a salon in south Forsyth near her mother’s home.

She said her creative side was no doubt nurtured by her mother.

“We were always getting our hands into something crazy,” Craighead said. “We’re all kind of an artistic, creative family.”

It came as no surprise when her mother picked up pottery, Craighead said, since she’s always keeping busy.

Mozley’s traveled to several foreign countries in the past few years, including Guatemala, Ireland and Switzerland.

She now works as a contracted caregiver to several elderly residents, providing mostly companionship.

When she has time to work on sculpting clay, Mozley said she lets herself just focus on creating.

“I sit here, and I paint, I put on my book on CD, and I’m in hog heaven just working on my pottery,” she said.