Saturday, July 23, 2011

Update and Thoughts on Pitchers

Before & Now

Our house is slowly being put back together. Thank heavens we have another place to stay.


We will soon be tearing that up......but only partially. We've been planning a kitchen re-do for some years and finally, finally got down to it. Of course, practically the day we signed the contract was when the flood happened. So some fast reshuffling had to go on.

I must remember to take some before and after pictures.


In reference to the previous post, I was thinking about pitchers. What makes a good pitcher?

I immediately thought about balance and function. First, a pitcher must feel right when you pick it up. It shouldn't be too small or too large depending on what you plan to put in it.

Almost goes without saying.

A pitcher must feel right when you pick it up--not too heavy on the bottom that you feel you cannot pour it without ease. A lot of that has to do with how high the handle sits on the body. Too low and it feels uncontrolable; too high and it feels like you cannot pour it all out. Luckily most pitchers are made well so the problem rarely comes up.

The handle should have as good heft to it, one that gives you the confidence that control will be easy.

The body must be big enough and light enough to hold the quantity of liquid needed. Nothing is worse than a pitcher that isn't large enough to contain all that you want in it.

And last, but most important, the spout must pour well. You must be able to aim the liquid to the target with confidence. Not too stingy; not too generous, the spout must also be designed to contain the liquid without the threat of spillage.

I've often wondered why pitchers have traditionally been made with no lid. Of course, fitting one would be tricky, but do-able. You would think keeping bugs out might be a good thing. Wine, fruit juice, beer--they all are attractive to bugs. The German beer mug is one example and the Mediterranean net-work cover is another, but an integrated lid just didn't seem to happen.

Some of the best examples of well-made pitchers are the old wash stand sets used in the age when indoor plumbing was absent. They were made of all shapes and adornments, designed to hold large quantities of hot water. And the decorative designs are legion.

Today, pitchers are not used that much. As a matter of fact, one show I was in brought a surprise when a very young child looked at a pitcher and asked his mom what it was. Juice boxes, canned drinks, milk cartons, plastic bottles have just about pushed the pitcher out of modern life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Pitchers

More from my files:

I often wonder if pitchers are going to be a thing of the past. At one show I where I had a booth, a potter remarked to me that the younger generation hardly knows what they are.

If you think about it, we don't use pitchers nearly as much as earlier generations did.

Nearly all our liquids come in either plastic or cardboard-like boxes.

These two pitchers are literally worlds apart.

The Chinese one looks like castle walls, roof tiles, curly toed boots and heavy fur-lined coats. I find it interesting that the structure above the handle serves no purpose except decoration. The pitcher is solid. straightforward and no nonsense. I also like the idea of the lid.
The glaze is perfect for the form.

This pitcher is all elegance and practicality at the same time. It is designed to hold a lot of liquid.

The spout would certainly pour and do that generously. I'm guessing it is a large piece meant to hold water or a liquid that would be used liberally. It's primary use was probably for water.

The handle is hefty, yet very decorative. It's almost too light for the rest of the vessel. Because it is decorated in a reference to a dog head, I would guess it was made in either France or Germany, since both those countries used that motif in their handles.

The design touch of banding serves as to emphasize the wonderful curve of the pouring lip, the roundness of the body. What an elegant piece.


Since I can't get to my studio to work, I thought I'd share a few pictures of pots I've grabbed off the web to dream over.*

This little gem comes with not much information. All the information is in what the eye can see.

It's either Japanese or made during the period of high influence from Japan and China. You can guess just by looking at it that it isn't large; it's probably very light in the hand.

It's interesting both in form and decoration. The piece probably was mold-made. It is more than likely porcelain and has an applied lid knob and handle. The triangular shape is unique.

Two things tip you off to know it's made in the East: The side-mount handle and the spout, which hearkens to saki-pot pourers.

Just look at that glaze design! Almost like someone had taken glue and layered the pot with fine brocade. And what a sensitive bounce of bluish white and dark navy. That fine white line all around the rim sets off and calls attention to the triangular shape. A sensitive design element that adds grace to the pot.

How I would love to handle this pot. To turn it over and see what the base looks like, what clay was used, to try pouring out of it. (Although you already know it would do an excellent job with nary a drip.)

What an inspiration to use for shape and decoration.

*If you have a Mac, it's easy to click on a jpeg, drag it to the desktop, let it go. It will sit there waiting to be opened or drug into another folder to be stored for later viewing. I usually re-name the file as a memory aid, or if I know who made the piece, the artist's name.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yee Gods!

From this:

To this:

Our osmosis water treatment unit under the sink sprung a roaring leak and the entire house was flooded up to the door sills.

The carpet and pad soaked it up like a sponge.

The yardman noticed our side patio door porch was wet and went to take a look. Then called us.

We don't know how long the leak had been going on, but enough to damage the walls and furniture.

We have a wonderful insurance company who immediately called a disaster rescue company who arrived with about 5 trucks, big pumps, fans, dehumidifiers and went to work moving all the furniture to the center of the rooms, removing soaked carpet and, when the dryness reading was reached, started tearing out the walls up to about 3-3 1/2 feet. (In the second picture, you can see from the dining area into the kitchen through the bottom of the wall.)

All, I mean all, of the cabinets in the house had to go as well as the doors--except the outside ones for now. All of the closets and storage areas had to have the bottom shelves and built-up floors removed.

So, for the past week, we have been dealing with insurance contractors, first in damage control and now in trying to figure out how to put everything back together.

Some furniture can be saved. We're in the process of working with a restorer/estimator who will take the fixable back to his workshop and start work on putting it back to new. My great barrister's bench, which is mahogany, will probably survive. As will the safari chairs and end tables. (we think). My lounge chair and the office chairs will make it.

Our very clever hide-a-bed cabinet delaminated and the mattress is toast. The front of this chest folded down to reveal a folded-up twin bed. I'll not find another one like this. And, I'm afraid the Chinese Chippendale chairs may have split legs.

An antique Empire red oak drop-leaf table is standing in the family room looking very drunk. Legs splayed like a poleaxed oxen. I think it's done for.

Our office furniture is ruined, but the paper in the files survived. The beds are all okay, since they are on high metal legs. But our bedroom furniture didn't make it.

We just put new drapes in the family room and bedroom.

And my little Featherweight Singer carrying case with it's custom card table were on the floor of the guest bedroom. They may be a loss.
My studio was virtually untouched. All the books survived as did my pictures and prints. The Christmas decorations were all in a big plastic tub. My quilts are okay. The family room sofa and chair as well as the end tables seem to be okay.


Nobody died; nobody got hurt.

And it's just stuff, after all.

And our insurance with either restore it or replace it. So in the end, we're lucky. It was worth all those years of premiums.

And guess what. I not only 'get' to to a complete kitchen renovation, I get TWO kitchens and a whole house.

(Um, all the bathroom cabinets have to be replaced too.)

Paint chips.....floor tile..... granite counters.... cabinet doors ....This is going to be my life for quite a while, I think.