Lisa Buck, Afton, Minnesota

Truffle basket, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, earthenware, fired to cone 04 in an electric kiln.

Truffle basket, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, earthenware, fired to cone 04 in an electric kiln.

This is a bit of funny form in that it came out of a series of work I was making as I was getting ready for my annual holiday sale. I was thinking about the lovely handmade chocolate truffles a friend of mine makes each Christmas and then delivers in a box to our door. I wondered what kind of pottery form would do them justice in presenting them on a table. This is what came out of those thoughts; a basket form that was very open, but still allows one to take care when dipping your hand in to select that tiny, tasty morsel of chocolate. It’s significance is really about honoring a tradition.

As with all pots, I think the form needs to have a strong visual balance, where all of the parts come together to create a pleasing whole, feel good in your hands and function well for the intended purpose. The components that make up a strong form can be obvious parts, such as handle, foot, and body, but they are also the more nuanced “parts” such as line, volume, gesture, movement, etc., that really create the feeling or personality of the pot. So, those minimum qualities would be just that, minimum starting points. Because this form came out of a specific idea, it feels like less of a “type” of form, although I guess it might fit under the umbrella of a basket form. That said, I think the challenge is in creating an interesting tension and relationship between the handle and the body of the form, as the line of the handle really completes the idea/form.

I think a user’s awareness of the intended function adds to the piece and further communicates with the user what I was thinking, but it doesn’t have to be important for the pot to be enjoyed. There are some pots I make, particularly the baking dishes, that are intended to move from oven to table (utility to presentation) in a way that I think truly enhances them and adds another level of information/communication with the user. But, it doesn’t bother me if someone prefers to enjoy a piece for simply its visual aspects; that’s a lovely compliment all on its own.

Marketing is something I feel I could do a much better job at, but here are a few things I do: I make sure the images of the work present the pieces as well as possible, but I think that’s important no matter if a piece is functional or sculptural. At my own sales, I try to present the work in relationship to food and have some pieces in service, and then talk about how they can be used. Some particular pieces may come with contents, such as the little salt pots I make; I will fill them with sea salt. I like my work best in the kitchen, on the table or resting in the cupboard and being viewed in that context, so I have done some sales in our kitchen and living room to add to that connection and really appreciate the shows I have been in that used domestic furniture to display the work. I have also started to have some of the owners of my work send me pictures of the pots filled with food or just taken out of the oven, but I have yet to decide what to do with those. I have had brief discussions with a local cooking store regarding having some of my work there as well, and I would like to pursue that further as it seems like a natural fit.


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