Thursday, April 14, 2011

All Together Now

I have always really believed that families eating together makes a difference in the way we interact with each other. Whenever possible, I make sure my husband, daughter and myself sit down for a family meal. It brings us closer together and I believe, it helps establish a strong family unit. As my daughter grows, I am mindful that I let her use what she deems "grown-up" items to eat and drink with. This means pottery, ceramic, glass. I have been trying to use as little plastic as possible. Because we instituted this so early, she is careful and more delicate with her surroundings. I was on a search for some pottery pieces to include in our meals, ones that I want to eventually pass on to my daughter someday. I was searching Etsy when I found Mudlark Pottery. I was struck by figures of children and adults painted on quite a few piece of Mudlark Pottery. They reminded me so much of my beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. I immediately contacted their creator.

Laurie, the creator of Mudlark is a New England momma. She was a research assistant for Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, and a naturalist on the Dolphin Fleet Whalewatches leading trips to see humpback and finbacks on Stellwagen Bank. After having her children, she became a part-time freelance science writer and full-time stay at home mother. She instilled an appreciation of art into her children from an early age. She told me, "(art) is a fundamental part of our identity as a family." Laurie started making pottery a few years ago, filling up her shelves with her beautiful, inspired creations. I asked Laurie what inspired what she calls her "Happy People Pots" (the pieces I mentioned with the little figures), and what she wrote me back really touched me:

The pieces that I call “Happy People Pots” are especially precious to my family, because these characters are based on the little guys that my kids and I have drawn since they were little. I draw them, Thea draws them. I think long ago these characters started out somewhat thinner and taller and older, but over time they have gotten rounder and younger—and I like the idea of everyone in jammies. Jammies are always a good fashion choice.

Look closely and you will see these characters are not actually always “happy”. Their faces and stances generally express many of the daily, lovely, sometimes challenging emotions of family life. Sometimes these folks are a little bewildered, a little annoyed, a little scared. Other times they are joyous. They hold hands, they sing and they dance.

These characters represent family in the broadest sense—they are big and little people together, parents and children hugging each other, sharing, protecting each other. Sometimes the little ones are straining away from the big ones, wanting to head out in the opposite direction. Sometimes the big ones aren’t quite paying as much attention as they should. But always, there should be a warm connection somewhere. I know that’s a lot to fit into a simple cup or a bowl, but I have a lot of fun trying."

We got the Family bowl. Each of Laurie's special little figures surround this wonderful piece. I think there was a little magic in there as well. We use this bowl almost every night. Whether filled with brussel sprouts (yes, kids eat them), or vegetable barley soup. My daughter is completely enthralled with the figures, and has taken to naming some of them. What really awed me, was that before Laurie even told me that the "Happy People Pots" where adults and children alike, my daughter instinctively knew who the "momma" and "daddy" figures were. Of course she has pegged herself as the joyful little girl. This piece will definitely (hopefully) be on her table someday, where she gets to have her family eating and enjoying together. Laurie has certainly accomplished her goal of that "warm connection". I am having big trouble deciding which piece to get next.

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