I have a confession. I occasionally find myself struggling with the idea of making more objects for a world that already has too many. I wonder what I could possibly create that the world would need. Adding to that concern, as I am finally settling into spending increased time at home, I am noticing all my collected serving platters, hefty pitchers, and wide bowls stacked up or tucked away, waiting for the next gathering.

Majolica ware from Florence, Italy, now hanging in my living room. Donna Gardner Striar’s decorated platters.

This then brings up questions about the inherent utility of these forms. Has their function somehow changed due to our circumstances? Only two people live in my home and the need to use serving dishes intended for gatherings of friends and family has diminished, albeit temporarily. Is there a difference in the value of a utilitarian versus a non-utilitarian handmade object? Sure, this is an age-old question that potters have long ago answered, and thankfully moved on from. I must remind myself of the answer—that these vessels do not have a singular function, and their ability to be useful manifests in many other ways.

It is this appreciation of beautiful objects, both using them and surrounding myself with them, that helps me find balance between my love of creating something unique and my desire to live a conscientious lifestyle. With that in mind, I dug out all of the serving ware and big dishes and started hanging them on the wall, arranging them on tables, and creating clusters of them various rooms. Now when I move about the house, I not only have renewed scenery, but also a new perspective on function. I am thinking again about scale, framing, color palette, and depth and lift in relation to both the table and the wall. Next week I imagine I will rearrange the pots, and hopefully discover a new way of seeing, yet again. My affinity for handmade objects and my desire to make more has a renewed grounding.

Sara Ballek’s pinched and patterned bowl.

This issue is all about tableware—to serve utilitarian, aesthetic, and emotional purposes. Dandee Pattee writes about fellow potter Mandy Henebry’s handbuilt and stencil-decorated salt-and-pepper shaker sets. Donna Gardner Striar teaches us the delicate art of building up brushwork to produce nature-inspired patterns. Sara Ballek demonstrates a simple technique to add relief patterns to the surfaces of pots. Phillip Finder, inspired by Modernism, shows us how to form an inset lidded jar with a dynamic but subtle surface. Rhonda Willers returns with a tripartite vessel with Peruvian-inspired connections. And, David Scott Smith takes us on a journey through New Orleans as he makes clay pressings for bisque molds on location to construct some truly unique teapots.

All that plus tips for boosting wholesale business, modifying commercial underglazes, mixing better casting slip, and handbuilding simple jewelry beads. Happy making!

– Holly Goring, Editor
Topics: Ceramic Artists