April 26th, 2020
To touch is to give life
Do you remember what you were taught in school? Can you conjugate a verb, diagram the Krebs cycle, or calculate the square root of anything?
I don’t remember much. But I do remember the monkeys. Cute, cuddly little monkeys feeding from sculptural wire “mothers”. It was my first college course, Psychology 101. The professor taught us about Harry Harlow’s classic study on maternal touch.
Harlow separated baby monkeys from their mothers and put them in a cage with two inanimate surrogate mothers. One was made of wire and had a milk bottle. The second was made of soft foam and cloth and had no bottle. The monkeys clung to the cloth mother. They only ventured over to the wire mother to feed, then immediately returned to the cuddly mother.
Some monkeys would go hungry rather than leave the soft, comforting mom.
Harlow’s studies in the 50’s and 60’s convinced scientists that all people need maternal touch. But our mothers didn’t read monkey studies. They already knew what we needed most.
As Michelangelo said, “To touch is to give life.”
If you’re lucky enough to still have your mom in your life, reach out and touch her heart with something made by human hands. Sure, I’d be thrilled if you gave your mom one of my handmade mugs or vases. But I bet she’d love something created with your hands—do you still remember how to make a macaroni necklace?
We all need a little extra self care during these stressful days.
Watching pot-throwing videos always hels me relax. So I’ve created a series of Instagram videos that I think you’ll find fun and relaxing.
Check out the videos on my instagram feed and please share the link with your friends who’d like to Chill at the Wheel.
November 25th 2019
Countdown to the Annual Open Studio Sale!
My annual open studio pottery sale is Monday, December 2, 2:00pm-6:00pm in Latrobe PA. My home and studio will be filled with food, drinks, and of course-- lots of pots!
Bring your friends, your appetite, and your holiday shopping list.
There will be something new this year: All three founding members of Make + Matter will be joining me, and bringing along a curated selection from their individual clothing lines, Kelly Lane, Otto Finn, and Flux Bene.
Make + Matter is a collaborative retail experience in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Committed to only offering goods that are sustainable and ethically produced, Make + Matter carries design-forward clothing, jewelry, ceramics and home goods, most of which are made in Western PA and the surrounding areas.
Fallingwater + Monmade Design Residency
One of the benefits of living in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania is our close proximity to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece of organic architecture built for the Kaufmann family over the waterfall of Bear Run. It is our “go to” spot to take out of town visitors. More than five million visitors have traveled from all over the world to tour the home, which was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2019. I am thrilled to have been chosen to participate in a Monmade design residency at Fallingwater this year. I joined 15 makers from Western Pennsylvania who enjoyed tourist-free time exploring the home and grounds. We translated our perceptions into inspired work for the Fallingwater museum store. We got to experience Fallingwater the way Wright intended: as a home in which to live and sit on the floor and be one with nature. An extra-special thrill was the day we scurried through the open hatch and down the steps to Bear Run. We sat on the platform, took off our shoes, and plunged our feet into the icy water. I imagined the Kaufmanns and their guests sitting on that platform, shoes in one hand and martini in the other as the music of a house party wafted down the hatch and over the rushing water. I’d like to tell you more about Fallingwater. About how tranquil the grounds felt in the quiet of the morning. About the way the home glowed at dusk. But descriptions don’t suffice. It is a place to experience. Fortunately, you can experience Fallingwater for yourself. Reserve a tour. Watch the video of the FMDR residency here: https://vimeo.com/371720207
If you're in Pittsburgh, stop by the Brewhouse Association Gallery to experience my work and the designs of my fellow makers who were inspired by Fallingwater. The exhibition is on view until January 4, 2020.
November 16th 2019
The November Lamp List
Thank you for joining the Lamp List. You've scored first dibs, free shades, and Lamp List Discounts on this year's collection of one-off fdpottery lamps! Each lamp is unique and sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Unsold lamps will be posted at regular prices on the fdpottery web store Monday, November 18.
Available lamps can now be found on the online shop. Click Here to view them.
Let us know if you'd like to join the Lamp List to be the first to know about the next set of lamps. Join by letting us know on the Contact Page.
October 26th 2019
Photo © Rebecca Caridad
Remembering a Ghost Town Wedding
Early this spring I received an email from a bride-to-be in Colorado who was in a bind. Her wedding was just two months away and the local potter she’d consigned to make a series of pieces for the reception had developed a hand injury.
She’d stumbled upon the cocktail plates that I designed for Schoolhouse Electric and wondered if I could make bespoke ceramics in time for her wedding. Joelle and her fiancé, Drew, envisioned pottery that would hold flowers and candles at the wedding and then become part of their everyday tableware as a married couple.
I sent pictures of some prototypes. Joelle and her florist discussed the options. It was important to her that the pottery function well for daily life after the wedding. I tweaked the designs to create flat-bottomed bowls that would hold flowers and candle holders that could later be used for condiments and nuts. Joelle ordered my cocktail plates from Schoolhouse Electric (the design is exclusive to Schoolhouse).
I shuffled my “pots to make” list, cranked the kiln, and shipped the completed pots to Colorado in time for the celebration. Joelle sent a warm thank you and some lovely pictures. I got back to my regular schedule of pot-making, including fulfilling more orders for Schoolhouse cocktail plates.
A few months later a good friend congratulated me on being mentioned in the New York Times. I thought he was joking. It turned out that Joelle and Drew’s inspired wedding had been featured in the Style section of the NYT and the Joelle was kind enough mention our ceramic collaboration.
My previous wedding pottery experience had been limited to the 800 pieces I made for my daughter’s Chicago wedding. Thanks to Joelle and Drew, I’ve been receiving wedding pottery requests from across the US. It’s great fun to collaborate on wedding decor that can be used and enjoyed by couples well into their marriage.
And those cocktail plates…well I’m still making them. In fact, I just shipped dozens of plates to Schoolhouse to replenish their dwindling supply.
July 4th 2019
More pots as promised!
Leanne Ford is the white-hot darling of the design world. So I was thrilled when she and her brother, Steve, stopped by my studio to select handmade ceramics for their hit HGTV show, Restored by the Fords.
They both decided to take a turn at the potter’s wheel, and we had a great time playing with clay. If you missed that episode and want to watch Leanne and Steve pot with me, check out Episode 4 “Hitting a Brick Wall” on demand, or through Amazon, Hulu and other streaming services. Better yet, binge-watching the entire season of Restored by the Fords and you’ll be inspired by the way Leanne and her design team decorate with ceramics! Leanne is known for her “light, bright, and cheery” approach to design. She chose pots from my Eclipse Series—sturdy, functional pots made of dark chocolate clay and white glaze. The large trumpet vase she used in several episodes of the show is the most requested pot I make. It looks great all by itself on a mantle or table, and it really comes to life casually holding a few seasonal branches.
I sold out of all Eclipse Series pots shortly after the show aired. So I promised to make another batch of pots like the ones Leanne chose. I hunkered down in the studio this spring and threw a batch of big trumpet vases, large statement bowls, classic crocks, organic soup bowls, and sippers.
They will be available in my online shop at 6:00 AM on Sunday, July 7th. If you’d like to select a pot in person, the pots will be stocked in my home studio shop July 5th. Use the contact page on my website to arrange a time to stop by my home studio.
May 26th 2019
Picnic Season is Here!
How not to show up at a summer party with an ugly plastic bowl full of macaroni salad. It happens every year. You get the invite, mark it on your calendar, and forget about it. Then it hits you in the middle of the night like a summer storm: We have that picnic tomorrow and I don't know what to bring.
You default to the usual macaroni salad and hope to compensate for your lack of panache by bringing along an expensive bottle of wine. You boil the pasta, stir in the mayo, and scoop it into the biggest serving bowl in the cabinet--a slightly warped blue plastic picnic bowl.
The cling wrap doesn't adhere to the top of the plastic bowl (it never does!), so you hold the salad on your lap all the way to the party. The not-yet-completely-cooled macaroni makes the thin plastic bowl extra-squishy, so some dressing runs over the lip of the bowl, and lands smack dab in the middle of your new white slacks.
You arrive at the party and deposit your big blue bowl of macaroni a la mayo on the buffet among the other plastic bowls of pasta salad and potato salad.
Then you notice it.
In the midst of the plastic bowls, crumpled disposable tins, and Corelle casserole dishes from another generation sits a handmade pottery bowl. It is quiet, confident, and stylish--without trying too hard. You know whatever is in that bowl must be fantastic. And you know that before summer's end, you too will arrive at a picnic looking confident and stylish carrying a handmade bowl filled with the most delicious salad at the party.
For an alternative to rushed macaroni salad, check out some simple, tasty recipes from our friends at Taste of Home. This delicious tarragon chicken salad was featured on a fd pottery plate in the magazine's March issue.
April 9th 2019
Handmade Ceramics are Getting Lots of TV-Love!
It's been an exciting time! My pots made their TV debut on HGTV's hit, Restored by the Fords.
I had a great time when Leanne and Steve Ford stopped by my studio to pick out pots for Season #2 renovations and decided to stay to play with clay! Now I'm having a great time watching the new season of Restored by the Fords and loving the way they bring the joy of handmade ceramics into the homes they renovate.
You can style your home with the Eclipse Series pots Leanne chose for her fabulous renovations. I'm making a new batch of pots right now that will be glazed, fired and cooled by mid-summer. Watch your email to be the first to know when they are ready.
• Watch Restored by the Fords Tuesday nights on HGTV for more fun pot-spotting!
• There are always pots available in my webstore
• Check back for updates on new places to buy pots