It all started a few months ago, when several Etsy potters had their French butter bells removed from the site because someone has actually registered the term "butter bell" as their trademark. So now we have to call them bell-shaped butter dishes or butter crocks or something else. This was followed by the publication, in Pottery Making Illustrated, of Keith Phillips tutorial on how to make a classic American Butter Dish, and by the discovery that butter sticks in the East and West coasts are different sizes (who knew?).
So I decided to look into butter dishes. First I tried to make the infamous butter bells. My first attempts looked nice but, once fired, the top and bottom didn't quite fit. I eventually modified the design and came up with this. I'm really pleased with these. The only glitch left to figure out is how to ensure that they don't warp too much in the firing since they sit on their rims in the kiln.
I then went back to making what I've always thought of as a "butter bells," that is, a dish with a dome-shaped lid (rather than the French version for storing butter outside of the refrigerator). Got some good results there too, although they might need to be a bit larger.
I finally tackled Keith's American Butter Dish. I've made a few and I am ending up with a tray that is a bit too large relative to the lid. I think that this might be happening because I am putting the bottom on the tray when the clay is still too soft and it stretches more than it should.
So, here's what I think about this exercise.
- I like the shape of the French butter crocks and I especially like that I could use one of the components for olives (place the pits on the outside rim!) and the other for a dip bowl.
- Making the dome-shaped dishes reminded me that I should make some garlic roasters (same shape just add a small hole for the steam to escape!).
- And I absolutely love the trays that are resulting from my efforts at making Keith's butter dishes.