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Beautiful and Meaningful

June 29th, 2011

How much more pleasant would drying dishes be if you could use a thick, densely stitched hand knit dishcloth? Might you be less likely to let a wastebasket woven of willow branches overflow with trash? Have you ever swept the floor with a handcrafted broom made from real broomcorn? It has tiny spurs that trap and hold dust, whereas plastic bristles rely on static electricity. These are the tools of our everyday lives. If we choose them wisely, our everyday lives will be that much more beautiful and meaningful!

Robyn Griggs Lawrence (The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty)

I would highly recommend reading the book above. You will find yourself thinking about the things that you chose to bring into your home. In our culture it’s often about acquiring more, bigger, better, faster, newer at the expense of quality, handmade and local. Over the past couple years I’ve really been striving to detox my home of the mass-produced low quality items that have no soul. When something needs replaced I try to find it made locally.

While shopping at Local Roots a month ago I noticed a local potter was selling crocks. They were all fairly small, so I contacted one of the potters, Emily from Moorefield Pottery to see if she’s make me a bigger one. I love that she uses clay harvested in the Ohio River Valley. This is a truly local product.

I was super excited to hit the market last week to pick up my crock. Emily did a wonderful job creating the perfect crock to hold my utensils, it is beautiful! Perhaps someday I’ll have her make me a few plates and bowls so we can get rid of our made in China white dinnerware.

It’s so much more meaningful when you can purchase a product made by a local artist or craftsman. I like seeing the artist’s signature scratched into the bottom of the piece instead of a “made in China” sticker – makes me very happy.

I love her little clay birdhouses as well, someday I may have a few of these hanging around the gardens. I really appreciate that there are people who take the time to learn such skills and I will spend my money to support them. Every time I reach for a utensil I’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of this handmade piece of art. Emily does have an Etsy store if you’re interested in checking out a few of her things.

Do you have any handmade items that you really appreciate? Do you know of any great artisans in your area?

21 Comments to “Beautiful and Meaningful”
  1. KimH on June 29, 2011 at 5:26 am

    We have a huge hand made wall unit made to shelve our cd collection of over 1500.. There wasnt anything really available like it so we had one of our friends make it to our specifications.
    He surprised himself even, I think..

    I have a stained glass fairy that was made by a local artist.. I love her.. She hides behind several large plants on my kitchen window sill but shes always there..

    I also have a couple delightful little wood sprite vases that were made by an area artist.. She only sells them at shows and they are so adorable.. I just fell in love them..

    I have a few tiny pots too, that I love… and some jewelry.. and a trivet… the list goes on…

    Reply to KimH's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on June 29, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Everything my father the woodworker has made for us–which so far includes our liquor cabinet, Cubby’s huge toy box, a small box I keep my wedding ring in, various bowls, and a tall rectangular box I use for wooden utensils in the kitchen–is beautiful, functional, and incredibly sturdy. Also meaningful, as he typically includes small bits of “nostalgia” wood, like wood from my childhood bunkbed or some of the black walnut from our property. If he lived closer, I’d have a whole house furnished with his stuff. Alas, Arizona is a little far to ship large items of furniture. Too bad. I really need a bed . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Melissa on June 29, 2011 at 8:13 am

    That crock is gorgeous! Handmade local pottery is my weakness! There is a local potter at our farmer’s market sometimes- I have to hide my wallet when he’s there. I have a beautiful butterfly dish from him- it’s rectangular and has the impression of butterflies in the surface- very delicate looking!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  4. Gabe on June 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

    When we take trips, we try to bring home souvenirs that are significant to the area, and hand-crafted by a local artisan. We have pottery made with volcanic ash and clay from Washington, a vase from the Niagara Falls area, wooden bowls from Hawaii, and numerous other artifacts from New England and some Southern states. These are much more meaningful than a T-shirt with the place’s name on it (though I do usually end up with a shirt too :)).

    Reply to Gabe's comment

  5. Daedre Craig on June 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I have been searching and searching for the perfect crock to put my own kitchen utensils in! Everything I find is either too small or too big. What a great find!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  6. Allison on June 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I Love Diana’s work at Crop Circle Clay :) I believe she is from the Dayton area of Ohio.

    Reply to Allison's comment

  7. Diane on June 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I’ve been using the same plates, bowls, and mugs in my kitchen — every day — for about 25 years. They go in the dishwasher just fine. I’ve never had a single part of the set break. And, best of all, they’re all pottery, hand-made by a local craftsman. When I first bought them, my perfectionist husband hated them because no two are exactly alike. But, he soon came to like them as much as I do.

    Reply to Diane's comment

  8. Sherri on June 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

    A stunning crock with soul… beautiful! I am a fairly new reader of your blog, and I just love it. I’m enchanted by your gardens and I love to read about your daily work in them. I couldn’t agree more about surrounding yourself with useful, beautiful objects. I find many of our household goods at second hand shops as I much prefer something old that’s well made (with care), to something newly mass produced. Your crock post is very timely, as I *finally* found myself an old crock for my utensils at a little antique shop on our butcher’s property (of all places!). These old crocks commonly held salted or fermented foods for winter keeping. I love that my crock has a “resume” of sorts… it brings a smile every time I see it and I’m sure yours does, too!

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  9. risa on June 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Locally we have a huge Saturday Market with handmade requirements but it is slowly pricing itself to tourists only as its fame has spread. A friend said: “Around here we have potters on top of potters, like angels dancing on the head of a pin. But everybody wants to make the eighty dollar bowl and be featured in a museum. Nobody wants to make a five dollar plate.” And that was during the 80s recession!

    What our family does is wait for such things to show up at Goodwill. Which, eventually, they do. And we make whatever we can.

    Reply to risa's comment

  10. Barefeet In The Kitchen on June 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

    That is the most beautiful utensil crock I’ve ever seen! I love it.

    Reply to Barefeet In The Kitchen's comment

  11. Annie on June 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Most people think it’s pretty funny that, as a potter for over 20 years, I don’t have that much of my own work! lol! I gave away my store bought dishes many years ago thinking that would encourage me to make a set of dinnerware for myself but I never have taken the time. That’s awful I know. I just take the extras or rejects from sets when I make dinnerware for other people. I do however, collect other potters work when I travel and have some wonderful pieces. Luckily, I know many wonderful craftspeople and try only buy (or trade!) for their work when I need something, rather than going to the store. Has worked so far!

    Reply to Annie's comment

  12. trashmaster46 on June 29, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I tried crocheting hand towels for the kitchen, but for the most part, I don’t care for the way they feel. Instead, now I embroider a corner on sack-cloth kitchen towels. OTOH, I’ve been wearing the same scarf and hat in winter I made for myself over 10 years ago.

    Reply to trashmaster46's comment

  13. Eliza J on June 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    That utensil crock is beautiful!!! She needs to put some on Etsy. Love the buy local crafts and food way of thinking…it just plain makes sense!

    Reply to Eliza J's comment

    • Emily Moorefield Mariola on June 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks so much! I AM on etsy, and i love it!!! (www.moorefieldpottery.etsy.com)
      It is always so nice to work with other artistic people and to come up with something functional and beautiful for them- this was a great collaboration for me… and i really enjoy reading this blog as well.

      Reply to Emily Moorefield Mariola's comment

      • Susy on June 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

        I’ll add another link to your Etsy store above.

        to Susy's comment

  14. Candie on June 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I enjoy shopping on Etsy for this reason. You can get items that know one else has and support artists and crafters. I also enjoy shopping at our local Renaissance Festival, there are allot of cheesy things but many booths are made up of local artists and crafts people. The mugs that are sold at most Renaissance Festivals with the festival crest of them are hand thrown locally, we always buy one.

    Reply to Candie's comment

    • Susy on June 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Etsy is a wonderful resource when you can’t find something locally! Cheers for having this resource in our day and age – it makes our “local” circle a little larger!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. farmgal on June 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Truly a beautiful crock indeed, I love my own handpainted crock for the same purpose, my mom and I only get to see each other once a year or so, and we have for years now gone to the local pottery place and painted and made each other special peices. Husbands and now grandchildren join us in the fun, when you live so far away, there is something so special about seeing things not just bought for you by family but hand painted and made together to bring that sense of belonging into your day. Sometimes we make the pieces by hand and sometimes we just paint them.

    Reply to farmgal's comment

  16. Xan on June 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Ooo- I’ve got a gorgeous stand of broomcorn going (assuming it survives the crazy storm that’s blowing through right now). I’m going to try my hand at making brooms!
    Xan´s last post ..If I had to depend on my garden for food, I’d be in trouble right now

    Reply to Xan's comment

  17. Estelle on July 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

    You totally inspired me there! Last Friday, I went to town for the first Friday art stroll in Kennett Square and two pottery artists were featured. I got a large bowl from Debra Lane, whose work you can see here:
    http://www.longwoodartgallery.com/DebraLane.html
    The prices were more reasonable than I thought and I hope to also get to expand my collection. The best surprise: all pieces are dishwasher and microwave safe! If you manage to come to Longwood Gardens this month, maybe you can sample some of Debra’s art, too.
    Estelle´s last post ..La couleur des hortensias

    Reply to Estelle's comment

  18. saglikasistani on July 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    A stunning crock with soul… beautiful! I am a fairly new reader of your blog, and I just love it. I’m enchanted by your gardens and I love to read about your daily work in them. I couldn’t agree more about surrounding yourself with useful, beautiful objects. I find many of our household goods at second hand shops as I much prefer something old that’s well made (with care), to something newly mass produced. Your crock post is very timely, as I *finally* found myself an old crock for my utensils at a little antique shop on our butcher’s property (of all places!). These old crocks commonly held salted or fermented foods for winter keeping. I love that my crock has a “resume” of sorts… it brings a smile every time I see it and I’m sure yours does, too!

    Reply to saglikasistani's comment

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