Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Design Inspiration - Casseroles

I was perusing a remodeling site and ran across a summary of beautiful cast iron casseroles.  I've always had cast iron in the kitchen and love to use it because of the good heating qualities and just the great look of it.

So, of course, I had to stop and look at the selection.  It made me start to think about good design in large functional bakers and how these ideas in iron could translate into clay.

Even though a couple of these vessels look very modern, some of them have been around for decades.  So it only goes to show how good design always prevails and looks great even though it was first created long ago.

The first example is one made in 1960 by Timo Sarpanerva.

The handle is wooden, but easily slides away from the loop handles for baking in the oven. It makes me think of a yoke. I've coveted this casserole for years.

The handle is so cleverly made that it doubles as a lid lifter also.  

(It makes me think of my grandmother's cast iron stove and the lid lifter she used. She would hook it into a recess in the round iron plate, the fire would leap up--very exciting to a little kid--and she would deftly slip small kindling pieces into the hole, then slip the plate back on, remove the lifter and cook a whole meal on that hot, flat surface.  She could make that old stove hum.) 

Here's an oval variation by Sarpanerva. Somehow, though, to my eye it does not have the wholeness or the unity of design the round one seems to have. Without the completion of the negative space of the handle, it begins to have a 'laundry basket' look.

I would worry about the stress on the wooden handle and think it should be more arched for eye appeal. 

It took a while to find a photo example. I don't think the oval one with the wooden handle is still in production. I did find it listed without the handle, though.

The round casserole is available, however.

So, could this be made in clay? Sure.  The idea of a lid lifter could certainly be adapted to clay. A wooden handle would look great paired with clay.

Elongation of the  handle loops and a reinforced design could be adapted. A new work in homage to Sarpaneva's design would be in order.

More iron casserole design examples to come.........

P.S. I usually don't make and don't particularly like oval bakers. Unless you're baking a chicken or larger bird. In that case, oval works well. And certainly oval bakeware stores nicely. But making a piece in clay is much easier to make in the round--especially with a well-fitting lid.

I did see Joe Bova make a beautiful oval casserole and he made the oval lid by slabbing out an oversized rectangle of clay, draping it over the leather-hard casserole and letting it slump naturally into a lid shape. When it became leather-hard also, he trimmed it and fitted it into the upper groove. He said he bisqued the piece with the lid inverted also.

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