Rush order: Egyptian pottery to go

Posted on: 3/4/2014; Updated on: 3/4/2014
By Chris Horn, 803-777-3687

The setting is ancient Egypt where a conniving thief gets sprung from prison to serve a power-obsessed pharaoh. Stir in palace intrigue, several curvaceous concubines, crafty sorcerers, a University of South Carolina ceramics professor and her former student, and you’ve got the premise for an upcoming TV series called "Hieroglyph."

Wait a minute — what’s a ceramics professor got to do with a TV show about pharaohs and sorcerers? OK, she’s not actually in the show, but Virginia Scotchie and her former student Bri Kinard can take credit for some of the props when the TV drama premiers this fall.

“I get interesting stuff like this all of the time,” says Scotchie, referring to an urgent request she received in January from Lara Allard, a Carolina graduate who works in Los Angeles for 20th Century Fox Television.

Allard assists the "Hieroglyph" propmaster who was in desperate need of a lot of authentic-looking Egyptian pottery.

“So Lara asked if I was interested in making the pieces for the show under the tight deadline — filming starts in a few weeks — and I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to do this,’ ” Scotchie says. She immediately turned for assistance to Kinard, a 2010 BFA in ceramics graduate who runs Red Bird, a Columbia ceramics studio and gallery located just a few miles from campus.

That was about six weeks ago. Since then, they’ve thrown about 30 different designs of cups, bottles, dishes and pots, then fired and glazed the pieces according to specifications from the studio.

“At first, it was a challenge. I’d never made a 16-inch bowl before,” said Kinard, who also earned an MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Some of the designs look quite simple, but when you sit down to do it, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Ultimately, Scotchie and Kinard turned out several hundred pieces of commoner (terra cotta) and palace (white clay) style pottery, working nights and weekends to make the tight deadline. Professional packers just finished crating the pieces and have sent them off to the New Mexican desert where the TV drama is being filmed.

“I suppose this could lead to more work from movie studios in the future,” Scotchie said. “But, hopefully, with a little more time to get it done next time.”


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