GIFT or SOUVENIR?
I found a treasured hand-thrown, fired piece of pottery at the Phoenix Fired Art studio in downtown Joplin, Missouri, my husband’s hometown, when traveling there year before last. I bought it as a souvenir, but it would have made a lovely gift, too. The fluted pottery dish serves as perfect four-person pie plate (it is five inches wide across the bottom); or as a fruit bowl full of cherries or berries.
I enjoy shopping where I can experience the art and artisans. I like this piece particularly because it is pretty, goes in my kitchen nicely, and is uniquely useful.
William Morris, textile designer, associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement in the 1800s, offered wise advice on decorations for the home. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
That fits this lovely and practical piece of pottery.
SHOPPING FOR GIFTS or FOR EXPERIENCES?
From the perspective of travel, I think of this as a perfect travel tip how to enjoy it in simple and uncomplicated ways. Explore, shop, view the art, visit the artist, and decide whether to make a purchase. That was the case at the Phoenix Fired Art studio.
Geoffrey Kunkler is both artist and studio manager. He enjoyed showing off his work, pointing out other artists’ work that he sells in the studio, and explaining the process of his style versus other potters.
See inside his studio on his Phoenix Fired Art facebook page.
His small pie plate appealed to me because it was a piece that would make a smaller pie for just four
people or two servings each for my husband, Lynn and me.
HOMETOWN or DESTINATION?
Joplin, Missouri, could be your hometown or your destination. It may be where you visit grandma or a favorite aunt. Or simply serves as a stop along the way to somewhere else.
MY TRAVEL TIPS
The Phoenix Fired Art staff bubble wrapped it for my trip home in the car. It traveled safely, packed easily because it was small and provided a special memento of my 2014 trip to a recovering Joplin after the 2011 tornado.
The pottery is a conversation piece, when I serve our company dessert from this tiny pie plate that allows no leftovers.
Last, but not least, the little plate/bowl reminds me of the experience in a working studio and Geoff the artist, who took the time to visit with me.
I have brought home small art postcards or 8×11 artist renderings of a place visited, such as Laguna Beach, California. In every house since we got married we have hung our prized batik prints that Lynn and I bought on our honeymoon by Diane Tunkel. In 2002 while in Durban, South Africa, I found contemporary pillow covers by Karin Gibson that we have hung with the batiks.
Have you found surprise shopping places that also provided an experience, whether in your hometown or while on a trip? Share those travel tips with me and my followers. We would like to learn about them.