Just about 2 years ago I had an opportunity that not only changed the way I look at my pottery and how I view myself as a potter but has also opened doors to many more opportunities.
In January of 2015 I met Chef René Stein. He had a vision to create a series of pop-up dinners in Jackson, WY during that winter and spring. Not only was he sourcing local ingredients right down to the salt, creating parings with local wines but he was also looking for local pottery to serve on. After a studio visit, where I was delighted to learn that he was not looking for white dishes, I put together sets of my black & white sgraffito porcelain ware, thinking that this might be a one-time thing.
Luckily, I couldn't have been more wrong. The first event, Pioneer Pop-Up, was held at the Ringholz Gallery just off the square in Jackson. It was amazing with every detail beautifully realized. After a series of pop-up dinners and a wonderful buzz through our community, René became the Executive Chef at The Rose.
The magic continued at The Rose, where my black & white plates became part of every special dinner, an evening of 3 - 7 delicious, locally sourced and creative courses.
René brought me requests for dishes: super flat plates, wide pasta bowls, wide based soup bowls as well as ideas for glaze colors. In the summer of 2015 I made a set of shino glazed plates, bowls and cups (in the photo above and to the left.) Shino glazes are notoriously active and hard to predict, the recipe I used could range from orange to white to charcoal to gold. It made me so happy to see how such an active glaze surface could also be activated and complimented by artistic ingredients and arrangements.
I learned a different way to look at form; very flat plates being good for meat dishes, wider based soup bowls that would be better for plating. Bowls that have very high sides can be difficult to see into once sat on a table... all the little things that I add to my list of "observations that make for highly functional and pleasing pottery."
This summer I made a series of wide pasta bowls and plates with a curved rim, glazed in snowy satiny white and charcoal. I've enjoyed seeing how René embraces mixing and matching the designs and forms, finding just the right compliment to his creation. The plates may be pretty on their own, but I think they come to life once food touches the surface.
These photos are from a special dinner held last weekend in the gallery of the Art Association. It is a special experience to be present while Chef René is in his element.
René and his family are soon headed to Germany for his next culinary adventure. While I will miss his style, I am grateful for this opportunity that sparked an excitement to be a potter at just the time I needed it most.
Last night Sam and I enjoyed a final meal at The Rose with Chef René at the helm. What a treat! While I eat off of handmade dishes at home (a collection of many potters, a few of mine and a few of Sam's) it is truly an honor to be served from my own collection. It is also a humbling experience that has solidified my desire as a potter to enhance these daily rituals and continue to learn.
If you are in Jackson or planning to be in the area, I highly recommend treating yourself to a meal at The Rose, where René's vision will continue and my dishes live happily.
Stay tuned, this series has only just begun!