Posts from November 2023


November 29, 2023

The biggest spoon I’ve ever seen was at a periptero in the suburbs of Athens near the port where my Dad docks his boat. Peripteros, our little pavement kiosks, carry everything from chips, chocolates and cigarettes to batteries and bubbly drinks. Just picture the tiniest supermarket in the world. This one was special though. Positioned just metres away from the roadside, the old man inside the kiosk –– we called him, “O Koutalas,” the big spoon –– would deliver our snacks on a large wooden vessel with a metre long stem. This was my earliest experience of a drive-thu. We’d throw our drachmas into the spoon and whizz onward. The smallest spoons I’ve ever seen were the tiny silver ones we’d use to scoop up mint jelly at our Sunday roasts. My half British Dad loves pomp and ceremony –– crystal salt and pepper shakers, porcelain gravy boats, sterling silver forks for every course –– as much as he does Sunday lunch. My only frustration with the tiny spoons was that I could never fit very much mint jelly on them. Maybe that was the point. When my maternal grandmother died, I inherited her silver. I still keep it wrapped in her flannel washcloths. We try to use it as often as possible. The soup spoons, beautifully shiny and round, like miniature antique gilt mirrors, are my favourite pieces in the set. I once gave a set of vintage ice cream spoons to a dear friend as a wedding gift. It makes me smile to think of her family eating Ben & Jerry’s off silver spoons. I’m not alone in my affection for spoons. There’s something in their soft shape that’s so appealing. They are also a vessel for soups, stews and vanilla ice cream, all comforting foods. Is our fondness for them somehow connected to the fact that our first tastes of solid food come mashed up on a spoon? Look through your kitchen drawers, and I’m sure there are wooden spoons with a hundred memories embedded in the grain. You may even have a beloved one. Given my love for spoons, I’m not sure why it took me so long to make ceramic ones. I was inspired by Paula Grief‘s spoons. And Suzanne Sullivan‘s too. Both potters have elevated the simple spoon to something of an ornament, something we can treasure for years to come. And how wonderful is that?

raw talent

November 17, 2023

Heyja Do. Holy moly. A truly talented ceramicist can take a lump of clay and turn it into something beautiful, refined and unique while still preserving the rawness of its original mud-like state. That’s the magic. That’s Heyja Do. Honey Vase, case in point. Alabaster Object VII, ditto. Canto II reminds me of a piece of limestone that holds down the table cloth in my studio. There isn’t a collection of hers that I’m not drawn to and that I’m not Inspired by. If I were to pick a favourite I might say, Reed II; the fragile, rough edged wing is so moving.

60-mile swim

November 12, 2023

I’ve been eager to watch NYAD since I first read that Annette Bening was making a film about long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad’s epic 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida. I love Bening. I love swimming. And I love stories where the human spirit triumphs against all odds. Just as remarkable as Nyad’s 60-mile swim, is Bening’s portrayal of the swimming legend. I read that Bening trained relentlessly for a year to hone her stroke, and averaged four to eight hours in the water, day and night, in all kinds of weather conditions. She was adamant that she would swim every stroke in the film. Nyad was obsessive and single-minded in her pursuit of her goal, and Bening was obsessive and single minded in pursuit of hers. “We build these cages for ourselves in our brains about what we can and can’t do,” Bening says. “We get so used to that, that we sort of even forget that they’re there.” The 65-year-old actress was likely referring to herself here as much as she was Nyad. It’s no surprise that both actress and subject are in their 60s, far enough along to have shed some of the self doubt, fear and need for control that ravages middle age, and that propels us to build cages in the first place. At 61, Nyad achieved something that she couldn’t in her twenties. “My mind has never been clearer,” she tells her coach and best friend, played by the brilliant, Jodie Foster. “Don’t you get it? The mind. This is what I was missing when I was younger. I’ve got it now.”


November 4, 2023

There’s a brief moment when the clay is almost bone dry and awaiting its first firing, when glazes haven’t been brushed on, or any markings rendered, when the kiln hasn’t had its way yet. There’s no colour or surface decoration to distract us from shape and form. This is my moment. This is what brings me back time and time and again. There’s something so honest and vulnerable about this stage of the process. All I see is possibility, and the hope of what might be. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once because I know that the clay can’t stay this way forever, and that whatever will emerge will never be as satisfying as this raw and hopeful state. And yet, it’s the hope that keeps bringing me back. I’ve made dozens of these spoons in the last two weeks. I love the idea of taking a basic, utilitarian object and making it special. That’s what pottery is. An everyday, functional object that someone made with hand and heart.

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