Darby at Daily Bird Pottery is my new friend at the Ballard Farmer’s Market. He and his wife Phoebe (also a potter – this family must have the best kitchen…) live in Port Townsend, and they make the most gorgeous pottery, all of it “naked” – without glaze – which makes it long-lasting, oven-proof, dishwasher-safe, and beautifully resonant. A few of the pieces have a decorative band of glaze at the top, but the body of each piece is left beautifully naked. They all look like art sprung right up out of the earth.
I’ve been visiting Darby every Sunday during mine and Jason’s weekly trips to the market, and every week I come away with something new. It started a few months ago with a mug, after Darby claimed that everything tasted better in their un-glazed mugs. I was dubious, but I loved the design, so I bought it anyway. And sure enough, Darby was right. I put away 4-5 mugs of tea in a day, and it’s true, the tea tastes better in their mugs.
Pretty soon I had abandoned all my other mugs so that I could just use my Daily Bird mug, which meant I had to have another one just in case the first one got broken or was dirty. And then somehow I ended up with a third mug, I don’t know how that happened. And then one day Darby handed me a plate, and said, “You don’t have to buy it, just take it home and try it out and see what you think. Borrow it and bring it back next week.” He wrapped it in paper and stuffed it in my backpack. And what do you know? Food tastes better too! So now I’m hooked. I went back the next week and bought eight plates, and then eight bowls, and now we’re selling all our Fiestaware at our spring garage sale so we can just have “Darby dishes”.
A couple weeks ago I saw this big beautiful bowl that said SOLD on it, and I of course jokingly asked Darby why he was waving this gorgeous bowl around if I couldn’t have it. “Would you like one?”, he asked me. He didn’t have to ask twice. I described to him what I wanted, he took notes, and today I picked up my lovely bowl:
And it has a voice! When you hold it up, and rap it on the side, it lets out a long, low, GOOOOOOONNNNGGGG, which, when performed around the Market, drew several people to me, asking, “Where did you get that amazing bowl?”
A week after I’d put in the order for the bowl, I was chatting with Darby about my tea problem. I like big, BIG mugs of tea, but after I put in my Coffee Joulies to moderate the temperature, there isn’t a lot of room left for the tea. “Darby, can you make me, like, this GIANT tea mug? Like a tea stein? Like a pitcher for tea but without the spout?”
Of COURSE he can! And not only that, but what design would I like on it? An octopus! At their studio they have a potter, Kim, who engraves these great whimsical designs on the mugs, and she did one of an octopus that I’ve always looked at longingly. So Darby made a tea stein for me, and Kim engraved it. But then Darby realized that the band color I’d picked for the tea stein didn’t match the color I’d picked for the bowl, so he and Kim made a second one so that I could choose.
Yeah. I bought both. I need two! One for back-up! And I’m always telling Darby that someday, when we get our boat, our first big trip will be to Port Townsend to visit my potter friends, so of course I need two two steins – one for the house, one for the boat. Makes perfect sense.
In the photo it’s hard to see how big they are, but with the Coffee Joulies, they each hold TWENTY SIX OUNCES OF TEA. I broke out the kitchen scale and weighed this out, I’m not making that up.
Yeah. That’s right. My mugs are the honor students of tea mugs, they run circles around all the other mugs.
And of course, the tea tastes better.