Lanier Meaders was born in Cleveland on October 4, 1917, into a family of accomplished potters. His grandfather founded Meaders Pottery in White County in 1893, and in 1950 his father, Cheever Meaders, inherited the family business. Meaders grew interested in pottery while helping his father run the business.
Meaders became a full-time potter in 1967, when a crew sent from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., arrived to document his father’s work. His father was ill when the Smithsonian team came, prompting Meaders to take the lead in the family business. Over time, Meaders created thousands of clay face jugs, and his success grew. Originally sold for $2.50 each, his jugs eventually reached prices of up to $3,000.
Two of Meaders’s greatest accolades came in 1983 and 1987, when he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Georgia, respectively.