WILLIE'S TEA POT... & My Favorite Tea Bowls...

WILLIE'S TEA POT... & My Favorite Tea Bowls...

I met Willi Jacobson in 1975 I believe… my first year in Sedona, Arizona…

Being the manager for the newest shop in Tlaquepaque, I was seen by someone as a good choice to be a juror for the Chamber of Commerce Art Show.

For the most part I was not very impressed by much of the work but I was quite wowed by several very large earthenware pots. I remember them as being massive & very dark in the color of the clay body. Knowing something about the difficulties of firing pieces of such size I could award points simply for such technical accomplishment, but further, I observed an unexpected grace even at such scale. They were as handsome as they were hunky. Those qualities induced me to argue strongly with my fellow jurors for giving them a major prize in a field of more typical “southwestern” work. These would have been beautifully functional in almost any culture to store grain. To my mind they eclipsed what else was being presented which seemed often more predictable & amateur or even a bit silly by comparison.

That began numerous years of appreciation for Willi’s skills. Besides his capabilities at massive work on a potters wheel, he created a line of ceramic wind-chimes successful enough to require a studio full of young folk doing the various processes to make enough stock to supply numerous craft fairs & shops he had as accounts. Those piece-work jobs were a boon for many young folk wanting to live in the beautiful Red Rock territory

Five or six years later he was commissioned by a mutual acquaintance who loved Indian cooking to fire another, probably even bigger pot to be used as a tandoor… the oven used to cook Tandoori chicken on long skewers tucked into its fiery depths while dough slpped onto its internal sides to baked as the bread known as Naan. I had some lovely meals cooked in this oven, being permanently installed on a terrace behind a rather notorious house.

I decided one time that I wanted a teapot which would make a generous quantity. There was no question who would make such a tool. I had a notion what shape I wanted the tea bowls to look & more importantly feel in the hand. Willi made this initial prototype, which had a sensuous shape with an astragal

I suggested a preference for a bit tighter closure to the lip & asked him to further dance with those ideas to make 8-10 subtle variations because I love concepts of character beyond absolute matching results. I easily trusted the outcome in his skilled hands. I have never been less than ecstatically pleased with the outcome of the set which I’ve been using for these 40 some years. They have settled into hundreds of hands, warming hundred of conversations. They have served many soups as well.

My favorites are those which tuck most deeply at their necks, but the slightly wider ones are equally satisfying, particularly if one is using a spoon.

That each has its own subtle personality works the way I prefer to set a table… with contrasting harmonies & dialogues rather than having everything matching en tout ensemble. They exhibit a more Japanese aesthetic & work well with other pieces of stoneware & china but most often hold their own at teatime with finger foods… so much more comfortable than traditionally handled & saucer-ed tea cups, although I enjoy other friends’ collections of those.

They are simply & spectacularly handsome!

I certainly celebrate such craftsmanship.

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