Monday, December 22, 2008

The Hairy Potter

The semi-reflective faces in this nativity scene allow you, if you look at them at the right angle, to put yourself in the scene. I found I make a rather fetching, if surprisingly hirsute, Mary.

A couple of weeks ago, Amynah’s friend Ani and her husband Jean-Luc were kind enough to treat us to a lunch at their home in Marienthal, north of Strasbourg, followed by a shopping excursion. Faithful readers of this blog may well be able to predict what the shopping was for.

Ani is an enthusiast of Alsatian pottery, waking up every Sunday at 6AM during the summer to hit the brocantes (flea-markets) in the local villages to acquire older pieces. Her home is a museum of the stuff, and she can identify pretty much each piece not only by which village it came from, but which potter, and which generation of potter.

Betchdorf pottery, pre-fired. When it's done, it'll look like the stuff above.

Needless to say, she is very well known in both Soufflemheim and Betchdorf, the two main pottery villages, and Amynah and I were very lucky to have her guidance. The day we went was an open house for all the potters in both villages, so Woerlings, the first place we visited, was packed with patrons. Nonetheless, both the owner and his daughter made their way through the crowd to say hi to Ani and tell us a bit their work. The duo were glowing: Woerling fille had made an all-pottery Nativity scene, that. earlier in the day, had attracted the local Cardinal (in full red-robed regalia), who praised it as being worthy of being displayed in a church. As such, the Woerlings were happy to press vin chaud upon us, letting us keep the tea-cups they came in.

Next stop was Betchdorf Christine Ruhlmann, a personal friend of Ani’s. She had turned in for the night, but came back to open up for us when Ani called. Her shop was nearly empty – Ruhlmann husband and wife being more interested in creating art than churning out beer-steins. There were a number of interesting items on display, as far as I could see through the cigarette haze, and when I was not distracted a love-starved cat that woke up from his cozy-slumber by the ceramics-oven to follow Amynah and I around like we were made of catnip-marinated-steaks.

Some of the Ruhlmann art. We bought a sugar bowl.

As usual, we came home with far more pottery items than we could possibly use, or need. Half of it was wrapped for us at the store, so we’re going to slap each other’s names on the packages and call it Christmas. Nor do we have any idea how we’re to get this stuff back home when we eventually leave France. Perhaps a ceramic suitcase?

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