Other Functional Stuff

Vases, Tool Crocks


We loved picking wildflowers as kids. We'd tramp the woods in May, hoping to find a sheltered, sunny spot where spring beauties and violets could be found in time to make Mother's Day bouquets for Mom and Grandma. Later there'd be branches of apple and plum blossoms from the orchard, lilac and wild tiger lily. Dandelions, of course, and daisies and Black-eyed Susans. We didn't bring home chicory, after the first couple of tries--the fragile blue flowers wilted away to nothing almost before we got them in the vase. And Grandma wouldn't let us bring home devil's paintbrushes. She had a superstitious dislike of their black, hairy stems and leaves, no matter how gorgeous the red-orange blossoms.

These days I don't bring flowers in the house much--the cats eat them, you see. I compensate by making my Vases as beautiful as I can. They're wheel-thrown and reshaped, some flare, some are straight-sided. I don't do them often, and when I do, I play around with the shape, the cross-section, handles or not. The one thing they have in common is plenty of surface to paint on. Smaller vases sell for $33; larger, elaborately patterned ones can go for as high as $45.

Tool Crocks......$27-38

I didn't have much experience with stoneware, growing up. With six rambunctious kids, our dinner plates were melmac or Corelle ware, cereal bowls plastic. Coffee cups and soup bowls were diner weight white earthenware, and pie plates were either aluminum or pyrex.

About the only real stoneware pottery I saw before I left for college was down in the basement, next to the potato bin: stoneware crocks, 10 and 20-gallon size.

These were no antique-store dainties, these were working crocks, filled with home-rendered lard, cracklings, and my dad's sauerkraut. Straight sided, grey-white glaze, with the size stamped in cobalt blue beneath the uranium-red Redwing Pottery logo. They were massive and thick-walled, heavy but hand-thrown, and I still have a half-inch-thick shard from one of them in my studio.

I don't make anything like that size of crock myself. Even if I had the mad throwing skillz and the giant kiln to make 50 lb. pots, there just isn't a market for them in these days of food-grade plastic buckets and bottled kraut. (Though I have done a couple of pickled vegetable crocks, complete with lid and weight disc, on special order.)

And every now and then I get a longing for the classic simplicity of those straight-sided forms and crock handles, so I make some small crocks, table-top size, for pens or brushes or kitchen utensils. I usually decorate them with bunnies, or hummingbirds, the running rooster and his flock, or any of a crock full of other patterns.