Or “How do you decide what to make?”
When I first started making, the object that I most often made was a Mashed Potato Bowl. You know the kind - not too big, not too small. A just right bowl for buttery mashed potatoes. The making of the bowl was deliberate in terms of thinking about form. I had the proficiency to handle a certain amount of clay, and these bowls gave me the opportunity to explore the discrete parts of the bowl: a luscious inner curve, a lip that is strong enough to clank a spoon on (because that’s what we do to bowls). And the foot - or no foot.
I love to make deep kitchen bowls for everyday meals. Big platters, that can hold all of the side dishes together. Tumblers. Garlic jars. Honey pots, jelly jars.
And mugs. Always mugs, the potter’s amuse bouche.
As a functional potter, with a special passion for food related items, I choose to make what I like to use.
But I also pig walk.
“Pig walking” is a term that I was first introduced to me by my sister Melanie. Melanie pig walked her way through the sunny Caribbean in her early 20s. In times past it was called Doing Odd Jobs, and even longer ago called Being the Girl Friday. But pig walking: “You need someone to walk your pig? Sure, I’ll walk your pig.” There’s something fun and ridiculous about it that I find immensely appealing.
As a maker, I occasionally and yet inevitably am asked the question, “Do you make ________? I’d really like a _________” Well…. hmm… hadn’t thought of that yet. Yeah, maybe I do.
A dear lady recently told me she would love a salt cellar. Do I make salt cellars? I love salt! Sure, I’ll make a salt cellar.
My family is nearing the end of a butter bell phase. My dad suggested, “You should make a butter bell.” Ok…
The artist/owner/goddess of the beautiful bohemian shop that carries my work asked about smaller dishes. Perfect for the street fairs that the town holds. You know, like ring dishes? So I began like this…
Then added little handles…
And proceeded to go even smaller. I really specialize in things for food. But these are my tiny vessels, and I adore them.
It’s pig walking. I love to pig walk because it allows me to explore questions that I wouldn’t have thought to ask.
How do I make it so the butter won’t slip out of the bell?
How do I get the salt out of the cellar if my hands are potentially too sticky to reach in for a pinch?
And as a cook, the less things that I have to unscrew, uncork - generally unopen - the better. I really don’t want a lid for my cellar. So how to keep the salt from getting all clumpy? And now that I made this beautiful cellar, what kind of salt should it contain? Which leads to think about a future blog post on mine and Willie’s exploration in making seasoned salt. (Think: Merlot flavored salt. And me mostly suggesting and eating, and Willie making.)
My sister Michelle was my first pig walking experience. Can I make those holders for wine bottles, so that we can pour wine all day at the beach and not have to even consider that it may dribble down the length of the bottle and onto the counter? (Not that the wine lasts that long. But still.) Well… those wine holders are basically cylinders. Not terribly complicated for a new potter. Sure, I can do that!
My son Chris is waiting so patiently for me to answer his pig walking call to make plates. Oh, plates. To me: kiln hogs.
Every request for new objects opens up new doors, new designs, new proficiencies. New questions and problems and solutions. The spark is provided and I embrace ideas and am inspired and set alight.
I plan to always pig walk. Keep them coming, people.
Because, sure! I’ll walk your pig!