Friday, May 28, 2010

The Better Butter Dish

I have to admit it right at the top: I don't eat butter. But I've become a bit obsessed with butter dishes.

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.
What do you think? And... who still eats butter?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Visit to Burlington, Vermont

My fabulous niece, Monica, graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development this past weekend. I drove Mom up to Burlington and we spent a wonderful time with my brother, my sister-in-law and my SIL's sister.

We arrived Friday night and met at Monica's for wonderful organic pizza. On Saturday morning we went to the Burlington Farmer's Market. What a treat! I bought some artisanal bread and one-year old cheddar cheese (yum!).

At the Farmer's Market I met a couple of Etsyans selling their wares. Dan Siegel is a potter who makes graphic mugs, tumblers and other vessels. I bought one his mugs for my collection and have already enjoyed drinking my tea out of it. Jen Kahn is a brilliant jeweler and my wonderful SIL bought me a pair of earrings that I had admired! Check out their Etsy shops!

After the Farmer's market we had lunch at Stone Soup where I had the best roasted tofu sandwich in a long time. Following lunch we visited with Monica's professors at a reception for the environmental science students and headed to the shores of Lake Champlain for a very touching impromptu ceremony. That evening we had the best dinner at Leunig's. I had risotto stuffed artichoke... to die for!

Sunday was graduation day! We got to the Campus Green at about 8am and found the perfect chairs under a big shady tree with a magnificent view of Lake Champlain and the mountains in the distance. Even though the ceremony was very long (they read each graduate's name... and there were 2000 seniors!), it was a delightful, breeze day. Following the graduation ceremony, we met at Monica's house where all the housemate's mothers had a wonderful meal ready for us. There we met parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings of Monica's friends. That evening we had another fabulous dinner at Starry Night Cafe. This time I had the salmon w/ the most amazing mashed potatoes.

So that was my weekend. I really felt privileged to be in such a beautiful setting, celebrating this most important occasion with my beautiful niece and dear brother and the rest of the family!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Starry Nights Lamp is on Etsy's Front Page!

This is very exciting because I actually got to see this in real time!!! I'm very honored and extremely grateful to Walrustusks for including me in her treasury. Please visit her shop!
View an Etsy Front Page Treasury List - The Vault on Craft Cult

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day Sale This Saturday!

Please join me and 13 other potters in The Clay Connection's Spring Pottery Sale, just in time for Mother's Day. The event is being held at a new location: John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Annandale, Virginia on Saturday, May 8 from 10am to 5pm.

In addition to my pots, you'll be able to enjoy the work of Marvel Adams, Ginny Ainsley, Marianne Cordyack, Laurie Erdmann, Brigitta Feinberg, Bruce Glassford, Michael Hough, Klaudia Levin, Linda Moesser, Amy Wandless, Dick White, Becky Zweibel and Wendy Zaidman.

Admission and parking are free and visitors will be able to participate in a drawing to win one of Dick White's beautiful crystalline vases.

I've been a member of The Clay Connection since its inception and seen it go through many stages. I've become more active in the group since retirement and I'm excited about its new direction.