Food & Culture
Local Pottery That’s as Useful as It Is Gorgeous
These regionally made pottery pieces are practical, handy—and beautiful
By Gwendolyn Elliott June 12, 2019
In this era of Marie Kondo and downsizing, our home decor and household tools really have their work cut out for them. Thankfully, a cohort of regional ceramic artists are producing useful objects that are also works of art, including mugs, vases, serving ware and more.
Sean Forest Roberts brings what he calls “an experimental mind-set” to his creations at Forest Ceramic Company (available at forestceramic.com and multiple retailers, including Click! Design That Fits, West Seattle, 4540 California Ave. SW; 206.328.9252), the porcelain studio he founded on Orcas Island. His dazzling marbled tumblers, bowls and plates are evocative of solar systems, sunsets and pastel-hued landscapes—perfectly practical for a garden party or any other purpose you can imagine.
You’ll find vases, planters, terrariums, mugs and more at Saltstone Ceramics (Wallingford, 2206 N 45th St.; 206.362.0836; saltstoneceramics.com), a ceramic studio, gallery and artist’s workshop started by Sarah Steininger Leroux. We love the geometric patterning on the teapots, pitchers and carafes in her “Mountain” series—they’re as Instagram-worthy and tea-party-approved as they come.
Deborah Schwartzkopf’s Rat City Studios (by appointment; White Center, 2410 SW 106th St.; 206.653.4490; ratcitystudios.com) is home to her handsome, hardy earthenware as well as the work of a rotating group of studio assistants. We’re charmed by her Art to Table CSA, a pottery subscription service offering different styles of dinner plates (some of which you may recognize on restaurant tables around town). Schwartzkopf hosts an annual open studio and potluck each summer, with this year’s event set for June 29 (more details here).
Perhaps the best-known local ceramic restaurant supplier is Akiko’s Pottery (by appointment; White Center, 10847 Third Ave. S; 206.763.3108; akikospottery.com)—and Akiko Graham’s output shows it (the wait list for some pieces is up to a year long; check out this article for a look at some, or visit the studio’s open house June 16). But her Japanese-inspired bowls, sushi plates and other wares are worth the wait. In this era of simplifying, it pays to heed the advice of 19th-century British designer William Morris, who once said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”