Large ebony curly bowl and salad utensils by Nancy Hilborn of Hilborn Pottery Design.
The kitchen gods must be smiling. They know that a hip serving dish or gorgeous goblet can make or break any dinner party. The food and wine served with such pieces can pale when these beauties are placed on a table, whether for a dinner party or romantic night in. Here is new work in tabletop from eight design studios guaranteed to add more than a pinch of gravitas to your cuisine.
The undulating ceramic edges of tableware by artist Nancy Hilborn, of Hilborn Pottery Design in Cambridge, Ontario, add an instant touch of class. “I’ve been twisting, bending, squeezing and slapping clay for more than 30 years,“ Hilborn says, “which I really like to do to achieve that free-flowing effect.” New this year to the studio’s regular lineup of dishes, pots and bowls is a condiment set shaped like a pea pod.
Gold leaf Flat Pitchers are popular serving items from Art of Fire in Laytonsville, Md., the glass studio of Foster Holcombe and Theda Hansen. The artists work out of a repurposed dairy barn that is home to their gallery and hot shop, where they teach and turn out tableware, ornaments, vases and lighting. Their Flat Pitchers are adorned with precious metal leaf to create one-of-a-kind patterns on the surface of the hot glass.
Each piece of blown glass crafted by Minh Martin is exquisitely detailed, with colors, shapes and surface designs that frequently incorporate metals such as silver and titanium. His Romeo Glass studio is located in a repurposed corduroy factory near Charlottesville, Va., where he turns out a wide range of elegant stemware, vessels and cameo pieces. “Unlike wood, there’s an immediacy to glass,” Martin says, “where you do everything right at once.”
Working out of her Catonsville, Md., studio, artist Donna Toohey creates hand-painted tableware that is colorful and playful. She works in themes, and her newest features seashells painted on white earthenware clay. “I feel like I’m a hybrid of a potter and a painter,” Toohey says. Her pieces are functional and uplifting. “What I hear from people all the time is that they make the people who use them really happy.”
The ash, copper and black glazes used by potter Royce Yoder have made his stoneware pieces—including serving bowls, platters and soup tureens—collectors items for decades. His one-man studio, in a barn he built in 1983 in Lederach, Pa., starts humming at daybreak. Every piece is hand-thrown and hand-glazed, he says, and his goal is always to make work that functions both practically and visually.
Animal, botanical and marine life patterns designed by Victoria Heisler, of Victoria Heisler Designs, are guaranteed to delight. From her studio near San Francisco, she uses bright colors and whimsical themes to illustrate each of her white earthenware ceramic pieces. One of Heisler’s best sellers is a large coffee mug sporting bright sunflowers. “I use it for my own coffee in the morning,” she says, “and it starts my day.”
Artist Rebecca Graves says her love affair with fiber, color and texture has spilled over into a variety of other venues including painting, printmaking and ceramics. Working out of her 4 Corners Studio in Angola, Ind., Graves hand-carves sgraffito on functional white stoneware mugs, plates and serving pieces. “All of my product lines are distinctive in color,” she says, “either black, turquoise, cobalt blue or red.”
The etched glassware produced by Ann and Jay Schwartz of Jaguar Art Glass in Eugene, Ore., includes goblets and vases in a wide variety of shapes and designs, including florals, animals and abstracts. Ann designs and freehand draws all of Jaguar’s imagery. She also cuts all of her stencils by hand, then sandblasts each piece individually. “It’s nice to sell beautiful things that people can afford,” adds Jay.