Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If at First (2nd, 3rd, 4th) You Don't Succeed...

A customer asked me for really nice, big handmade tureens to give as wedding gifts. It’s been a long time since I made any, and since all I could make were small ones back then, I’m glad to have the challenge of making a new item.

So I made a group of big tureens over a couple of weeks. They really are the perfect serving pieces for soup, or your-mama’s-recipe chulent, or whatever hot food item you want to look extra nice and keep hot when you bring it to the table.

This took place in the last few weeks before the freak snowfall, when the leaves were changing colors and the gourds in the farms and markets were making their splashy debut. I thought of squash and pumpkins as I worked, and some tureens grew vines and leaves for handles.

I've applied handles for two dozen years and more. For some reason, I used (do not fear, this is a really isolated instance!) too light a hand when pressing handles onto two of the tureens. So these nice, curvy, textured handles began to separate from the pots. They were a bit too dry to fix, so I took them off completely, smoothed the spots where they were inadequately joined, and I now have two tureens that have a handleless, clean, modern style. Accidental design! The other, handled tureens will be easier to carry to the table, though. All in all, nine lidded tureens are drying, almost ready to go into the kiln.

Today I woke up with a seder plate design in my head. I think it could work this time. (Hope springs eternal!) Over the years, I’ve designed and tried at least five Seder plate versions with various levels of complexity, from way simple to image-heavy. Some were fairly nice but none, in my opinion, was quite right. THIS is the one. (I’m telling you, THIS IS THE ONE.) Try and try again. (If this one is NOT the one, I will try again.) I made the first one today, the trial run, all except for the little dishes and the graphics, which I plan to do tomorrow. The handbuilt plate is firming up, upside down on a piece of upholstery foam, on the slab roller table in the studio. Can't wait to turn it right side up tomorrow. Here's hoping I'm right about it being The One. Photos soon. And I hope to put up some new tureens on my website in about two weeks.


  1. I really liked the seder plates that you tried a few years ago, with the irregular wavy edge and the tromp l'oeil representations of the items.

  2. Zahava, it's hard for me to be objective on those. I still think they're interesting, and fairly nice, but there's an intersection of beautiful and interesting, and I can't tell if they've arrived. Considering time and effort on these, and the subsequent price I need to charge for them, I think they have to become a speck more "regular". Maybe I should photograph them and let the voters decide if these older ones sing or just hum?

  3. Sounds like a plan, Mimi! I want to see them!