These days, and especially in summer, it's easy to highlight local food in the meals we cook: tomatoes from our gardens, peaches from the orchard one county over, eggs raised by the next-door neighbor. But what about taking it one step further and serving all that luscious goodness on a plate made by a local potter? OK, so for some of you, sourcing locally-made dishes for your table may not be possible, but for many of us it is. Summer is the season for art fairs where you're bound to find at least one ceramic artist, but most likely several. If you live near a university or local community college, check with the art department to see if they offer ceramic classes and ask the teacher about any local potters. (Or be inspired to take a class and make your own!) Many communities have shops that showcase local artisans as well.
Handmade tableware is of course expensive but you don't necessarily have to purchase a complete set of handmade dishes. Try picking up a few bowls for your morning porridge, or a few serving bowls or platters. Or find a salad plate that goes with your regular dish set. Take it slow and piece by piece add to your collection. Be sure to let the potter know you are interested in collecting their work so they can keep you informed of sales.
Here in the Bay Area we are lucky to have Heath Ceramics, a tableware and tile maker that bridges the gap between artisan potter and factory. We also have many talented potters and ceramicists who make a variety of beautiful pieces for the table. One of my favorites is Barbara Hoffmann who made the beautiful bowl pictured above.
Do you collect pottery from your region? Who are some of your favorite potters and ceramicists?
For more information on Barbara Hoffmann, visit her webpage. (She also made my favorite mug, pictured here.)