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Form Follows Food: Setting The Table


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#1 Sarah_Archer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:29 PM

Pots are a little like flavors - not every pot goes well with every type of food. How do you decide what forms/colors/surface treatments/proportions are best for different types of food and drink? Is the table a big source of inspiration for you? Does a potter also need to be a good cook? Discuss!

(Image courtesy of Shevon Gant Ceramics)

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#2 Mudlark

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 06:07 PM

For me the most memorable occasions around food are a conjunction of circumstances and people. The food can be as mundane as a packet of sandwiches. I joined the RAF as an Apprentice and after 6 months initial training had some leave due. I went home and in that 6 months my sister's friend had left school and started work. She had turned into a delightful young woman rather than the scruffy school kid I remembered who was always getting in the way and asking silly questions. I decided to make her acquaintance and found out where she worked. As the RAF did not pay their Apprentices very well I walked the 5 miles into Liverpool and loitered near her office until “just by chance” I happened to be passing as she came out for her lunch break. We walked to the pier head and sat on a bench where we shared her sandwiches, shielding them from the gulls, and watched the ferries cross the river. The same ferries were later immortalized by the Beatles. We married a few years later and have shared many impromptu lunches since.
There is nothing to beat a hot meal – Imagine being on a NATO exercise, days of eating pre-packed field rations, you are wet, cold, dirty and very hungry. Under those circumstances the hot food cooked in a makeshift field kitchen and served up in mess tins beats anything that todays “Celebrity Chefs” can turn out.
The cold beer thrust into your hand and drunk straight from the bottle after hours of fighting a bush fire is the nectar of the gods.
An impromptu barby on the beach, the fire made from driftwood, fish freshly caught and eaten with your fingers – passing the hot flesh from hand to hand whilst trying to blow it cold , your children squealing with delight at the novelty of it all.
Some meals are memorable for the setting, “hearty soups” eaten in a country pub after a long brisk walk on a cold day with crusty bread baked in a wood fired oven and washed down with real ale or a rough red that knocks your socks off. The food being served in peasant style pots made with a rude immediacy by the village potter, the form changed little over the centuries - form follows function in everyday practice.
Should potters cook - yes I've cooked for as long as I can remember starting with potatoes cooked in a bonfire, burnt black on one side and raw on the other. I am very aware of the need to design pots so that they are safe to use, bowls need bases that are big enough to provide stability and not tip hot soup onto the diners lap. Dishes used in the oven need knobs on lids that are big enough to be grasped by a gloved hand, likewise handles on the pot itself . Mixing bowls do a better job with a little tumblehome so that the contents do not end up on the bench or floor. Mugs ? How often do you pick up a mug that does not do it's job properly. They come in a variety of faulty designs, too wide so that there is a risk of slopping the contents all over the place in addition to letting the fluid get cold quickly. Too narrow so that you hurt your nose and have to tip your head so far back to get at the contents that you are in danger of falling over backwards. Too heavy, with badly placed and sized handles that defy any attempt at holding the mug comfortably. Plates that have too small a foot ring so that when you attack your steak with a knife the plate tips and deposits the lot on the table.
Do pots add to the eating experience ? Yes they certainly do in many ways, if they are well designed with fitness for purpose in mind as Robin Hopper would have it they are a pleasure to use but get the fundamentals wrong and the best efforts of the cook and host can be rendered disastrous. Food and sharing it with others is intimately involved with celebration, be it the milestones of life, that special date, birth, religious occasions, a job offer, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and when it is all over funerals, or just a get together at the end of the day by a group of colleagues reflecting on a job well done. Pottery adds to the pleasure of sharing food, warm colourful table ware, nicely balanced cutlery (an absence of plastic) some sparkling glasses all add to the experience but cannot make up for bad company – it's people that make for memorable experiences.

#3 timj219

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 01:08 AM

I love food and I love to cook. I even spent a few years working in restaurant kitchens and as a bartender. And as a student of pottery I really pay attention to the form of eating and drinking vessels. Mine and others. I hate to see soup served in a wide flat bowl or salad in a steep sided bowl with a slightly inward curving lip. I get a lot of pleasure drinking from a tumbler that is faceted, carved, or textured in the places my hand rests. Food and drink tastes best in pots made with an eye to the food and drink they'll hold. And the pots are never as beautiful as when they are in use. The love of using a good pot is as important as the love of making a good pot.
"All this of Pot and Potter--Tell me then,
Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

#4 hansen

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 06:52 PM

I'm always intrigued by the forms and shapes of throw-away items like paper cups or plastic containers from frozen dinners. More people live this way all the time. This is a new generation of functional forms few potters exploit.
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#5 Sarah_Archer

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:43 PM

I'm always intrigued by the forms and shapes of throw-away items like paper cups or plastic containers from frozen dinners. More people live this way all the time. This is a new generation of functional forms few potters exploit.
h a n s e n


Hansen, have you ever seen the "Crinkle Cup" by Dutch designer Rob Brandt? They look like crinkled plastic Dixie cups but they're cast in porcelain. We've had them in the shop at GHP for a little while and they have elicited a big range of reactions - some people react very positively to their cleverness (and low price tag) while others are offended by the fact that they are slip-cast rather than hand-formed or thrown. Personally I love the interplay between the industrial and hand-fabricated - they are handmade, just not in the same way that the typical thrown pot is.

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#6 Kelly Savino

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 10:58 PM

I make weird food. I ferment kombucha tea, store a week's worth of bread dough in the fridge, make kraut and other brine-fermented veggies, crock pickles, yogurt and kefir, and breads and pizzas in a wood fired clay oven. I have had to come up with my own dishes and pots sometimes to suit my needs -- a tall-chimneyed kombucha fermenter with a spout, a giant lidded refrigerator-friendly bowl for dough, a kefir strainer that separates kefir from grains, or a tofu press for making tofu from soy milk.

My MFA show focused on ancient pots for fermented and cultured foods, so a lot of what I am making is historically inspired, but as I use my own work I keep tweaking it to better fit a fridge shelf, oven rack, brine presser lid, or spatula.

I am learning that there are other fermenting freaks out there as well, and may end up trying to make a line of pots for that market - after a little more research and delelopment!

#7 Carolyn Dorr

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:49 AM

I have been thinking about putting together a conference that incorporates both food and ceramics... I really need to figure out how to do this...

Any thoughts on this conference idea...

The discussion so far has me inspired!
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#8 Chris Campbell

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 10:14 AM

Yes, please ... That would be excellent.

I watch Molto Mario on the Cooking network and he uses the most interesting pottery
to present his food in ... It has been an education to see his choices since they are seldom
obvious ones.

I would also like to get some ideas centered around making dishes for THIS generation,
not their parents. They eat in a whole different way and don't need the traditional dish set ...
They need square stuff to fit on desks and stuff with handles so they can walk around ... things
that suit take out foods ... lots of condiment dishes because they love to graze.

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#9 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 03:50 PM

I am taking a break from glazing a dinner set. I have been following this topic. I missed two dinnerware show deadlines because I couldn't decide what to do for design. First, I decided I am keeping this dinner set. Second, what are my favorite glazes...they happen to match the saltillo type tiles and ochre antiqued walls in my house.
My husband and I both love cooking. He invents on the grill...herb encrusted chicken breasts, marinated flank steak, salmon, rack of lamb, etc.
I am more into vegetables: cauliflower salad, grapefruit/avocado salad, marinated asparagus,etc. Serving dishes prevail.
So I committed. Now I can clear out the studio and start on some terra cotta murals and a 12 stations of the cross for a little mission style church along the border.
I have enjoyed reading this very much. I'll watch for Molto Mario but my husband is the Italian chef...I do more Spanish style food. I'll watch the pots.
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#10 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 02:48 AM

I love food and I love to cook. I even spent a few years working in restaurant kitchens and as a bartender. And as a student of pottery I really pay attention to the form of eating and drinking vessels. Mine and others. I hate to see soup served in a wide flat bowl or salad in a steep sided bowl with a slightly inward curving lip. I get a lot of pleasure drinking from a tumbler that is faceted, carved, or textured in the places my hand rests. Food and drink tastes best in pots made with an eye to the food and drink they'll hold. And the pots are never as beautiful as when they are in use. The love of using a good pot is as important as the love of making a good pot.


I have to comment on your statement of soup in a wide flat bowl...this comes from the idea of serving cream based soup in a wide flat bowl so that it will cool. Broth based soup is served in a more vertical deeper shape to hold the heat. This reflects the same concept of winter and summer tea bowls.
Summer tea bowls are wide and low..cooling the tea, winter tea bowls are more narrow and vertical.

Form follows function. Just found your comment curious.
Marcia

#11 Seasoned Warrior

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:46 PM

What a fascinating discussion. I've never stopped to consider the differences between bowl type and temperature for instance. I know that some shapes enhance the olfactory appreciation of different beverages: the pilsner glass versus the stein. Also the differences of sensation with a red wine glass versus a white wine glass or a champagne flute. Another area I have discussed frequently is that of color and the presentation of food. I have one acquaintance who insists that black is the best color for dinner plates. I've had others tell me that blue is not an acceptable color for food since there is no blue food. many of these discussion s seem to be in support of personal preferences. The differences in shape are more easily quantifieable in my personal opinion but I am fascinated with the whole topic. I love food although I'm more of an open fire and paper plate kind of guy I enjoy entertaiing and I'm in favor of anything that enhances the experience. I'm looking forward to this thread expanding with other food related concepts.

#12 Deb Evans

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 11:45 PM

Fuctional work right now is bowls, find that all the food I cook up works in a bowl, and then small bowls for sauces--- I like to play w/ my food and have diff tasts . influence is Texas, Thai and Korean foods.
Anyway regarding color= if spegetti /red sauce (extreame color) would look good in it > it works.



#13 phill

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:21 AM

Fuctional work right now is bowls, find that all the food I cook up works in a bowl, and then small bowls for sauces--- I like to play w/ my food and have diff tasts . influence is Texas, Thai and Korean foods.
Anyway regarding color= if spegetti /red sauce (extreame color) would look good in it > it works.



check out these really great bowl/platters by sc rolf! my favorite is the larger one, the bottom right image.




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