For years, Richard and I have given unique hand thrown bowls as wedding presents. There is nothing wrong with purchasing from a couple’s gift registry and we do that too. I remember how excited we were 40 years ago to receive, plate-by-plate, the Dansk Christianshaven Blue dishes we still use today. We give the bowls knowing our gift is something both practical and a work of art; a functional piece that may be hugged as a popcorn bowl on movie night or simply displayed on the table for its beauty.
The merits of a good LYS (local yarn store) are a frequent discussion topic among fiber enthusiasts and I realize Caradori Pottery is my LPS (local pottery store.) The key attributes are very similar: a showcase of intriguing shapes, in a multiplicity of colors, knowledgeable staff, fun accessories, and lively conversations with the potter and proprietor, David Caradori.
For the mountaintop wedding of our great-niece earlier this month, we selected a large bowl similar to those pictured. The light earth-toned background with coral accented petals and dark dragonfly motifs will complement the couple’s lightly speckled charcoal gray everyday stoneware.
Photo credit: © David Caradori
A number of years ago, a friend described the Japanese art of Kintsugi in her opening words on a Sunday morning. Amazing to think that in this all too quick to pitch, always buy new consumer world, there are those whose art focuses on the broken, carefully recreating that which was valuable and making it even more beautiful by re-assembling it with precious metals.
I am sure I must have passed ancient porcelain repaired with gold or platinum in the Asian Art collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) but nothing immediately comes to mind. Although, to be honest, we frequently walk the long corridor dividing period rooms without careful study simply because it is the most direct route to our timed entrance to tour a featured exhibit.
One day, while visiting Caradori Pottery for bowls to give as wedding presents, I indulged my love of pottery and treated myself. Unlike a piece of pottery broken by use, this vibrant green glazed bowl had developed a small crack during firing. Rather than reject this beauty, David, artfully filled the gap with 24K gold.
I bought the first of our many pottery bowls in an art gallery in Tiburon, California while visiting a friend in San Francisco. Enough time has passed since that 1974 purchase that I have no recollection whether color or shape drew my attention. What I do know is that I have continued to be drawn to hand-thrown pottery, especially bowls. Whether the bowl holds dough rising or serves as a catch all for knitting notions, each bowl is blend of art and functionality.
When looking for a unique gift whether a small token of holiday cheer or a gift for a momentous occasion I usually defer to pottery. I have made purchases while traveling – Portland, Saint Petersburg, San Diego (carefully hand carrying my new treasure home) – but my favorite potter is David Caradori. David grew up across the street from my house in Eau Claire. His brother was in my grade school class and our Moms shared a church card club. But regardless of our childhood connections, I buy from David because he is simply an amazing artist.
His years of study with Japanese masters are visible in his glaze designs and the wood firings take days to transform thrown clay with flames and ash. A short (4 minute) YouTube video reveals the result of the 2020 Autumn Firing from the Suskenei Kiln which produced approximately 650 finished pieces including the nine small bowls I requested in May for Christmas presents. Each small bowl is approximately 4 inches in diameter and perfect for holding a pinch of herbs to flavor a sauce or to keep stitch markers corralled or just to enjoy.