The Art of a Handmade Berry Bowl

Handmade berry bowl in a duck egg blue glaze filled with blueberries


One winter, a couple of years ago,  Mr Rhubarb kindly bought me pottery lessons as a ninth wedding anniversary gift.  Such a gorgeous idea and as a massive fan of pottery I thought it was going to be a changing point in my life.  I was going to become an amazing potter and launch a fabulous line of pottery.  In fact, I was going to be the new Emma Bridgewater. The truth, alas, was a little different.  As much as I loved it, the clay did not love me.  Just a few weeks along it’s fair to say I was mainly staying for the cake one of my very lovely classmates would bring in each session (she made an oat bar with passion fruit curd that was out of this world - I will share it on here another time)  Physically just getting the pottery pliable before you do anything with it was back-breaking.  And the patience…both in creating a design, firing it, the waiting for it dry, but also the glazing. It’s a strange alchemy that I’m in complete awe and wonder of those who have the skill, the talent and the patience to persevere till they create something utterly beautiful.

On the back of shows like The Great Pottery Throw Down & The Repair Shop I believe more people are aware of the time, physical and mental strength it takes to create beautiful items that will last more or less forever if you treat them nicely.  I was listening to a wonderful podcast with one of the judges on The Great Pottery Throw Down, Keith Brymer Jones, the British Designer, Master Potter & author and he was saying how we have become increasingly aware of the hard work, the patience, time and creativity which goes into crafting beautiful pottery.  There’s a lot more realisation of the value and work that goes into each piece.

Take for example, our bestselling handmade berry bowls.  Often imitated but never bested, each set comes with a handmade colander and a matching drip bowl so you can wash your fruit and then rest it on the plate underneath to capture any drips and bring it straight to your table or countertop.  They are the one item I get the most emails about, asking when they’re going to be back in stock.  Often from customers who've bought one for a gift and then want one for themself, usually in the other glaze.  I fell in love with them as soon as I saw them and it’s not hard to see why.  Menna of Cleiog Ceramics, is a super talented potter who is influenced by French design and it's really clear to see how that translates into her work.  I love everything she makes and her collections for Rhubarb & Hare always fly out of the store.

But these handmade berry bowls, with their two pieces are so demanding to make that Menna can only create a couple of runs a year.  Just the berry bowl alone takes on average 3-4 weeks to make.  Imagine that?!  First the bowl is made on the wheel then left to dry till its leather hard when the shape can be trimmed, the beautiful spout and foot ring created.  Secondly all the colander holes are measured out and punched by hand individually.  Then the bowl is bisque fired and sanded down to make sure all the holes are smooth.  The bowls are glazed and have to sit for a couple of days to dry before the holes are all re-poked to make sure they’re free of glaze and are spotless.  They are fired for a second time which takes 48 hours.  Once they are out the bottoms are sanded again to make sure that they are smooth and don’t scratch your table when they are put down. 

Can you imagine?  All that work just for one individual berry bowl.  That doesn't even include the time & effort into making the drip bowl.

But when you hold it, as you use it, you can feel the love and attention to detail that has been poured into each one.  They are a joy to use and I’m thrilled to say we have one last batch going live on the store before Christmas.  Newsletter subscribers will get notified first so do sign up if you want to be one of the first to know when they do.  Otherwise the only question is which colour do you go for?  Duck Egg Blue or Rustic White?