“I Know a Wonderful Potter”

One of the goals in the Madrone Culinary Guild’s Statement of Purpose is to research, design, cook, and serve banquets that are the best we can do with 21st century food sources and equipment. Scan the list of Banquets on the website, and it’s clear that right after the Guild was formed, we jumped into making banquets, served family-style, to accompany activities of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

A lesson we learned immediately is that neither a church kitchen nor the cupboards of a community hall possessed serving dishes that came close to fulfilling a medieval/Renaissance look. We were – and remain – aware that people eat with their eyes first. But the year was 1978. The modern marketplace could not help us. “Medieval” and “Renaissance” were not styles that commercial serving-ware companies were producing.

We knew from studying illuminations and art of our pre-17th century period that serving-ware of the period was made of gold, silver, pewter, wood, and pottery. We could not afford gold, silver, or pewter, but pottery – that was reachable. We needed a creative potter.

Our first order of custom pottery serving-ware was made in 1979. We knew of a person who was in the final year of pottery master craft school. In the Minutes in April 1979, it says, “Sabrina visited our potter yesterday to see about bowls, $6 each, stoneware, high-fire, lead-free. He can make a lip around them for carrying… We liked the sample Sabrina brought.” A month later the potter delivered 12 bowls that looked Very Medieval!

The bowls made by the young potter were not as durable as we had hoped. They were all broken within a few years, after what we thought of as normal use in four or five banquets each year. Could we find a potter who would understand the style of pottery we wanted, and the durability we hoped for? A new Guild member, Anne-Marie d’Ailleurs, said at a meeting, “I know a wonderful potter, and she’s in the SCA!”

In the Minutes of April 29, 1992 is written, “Edward and Anne-Marie spoke to Morgaina at an event last weekend. She makes round bowls that are [the size and volume] we need. Pottery that should take some abuse.” We agreed to her price, and placed an order with potter Morgaina of the Woods for 20 bowls and 20 round plates with rims. “I throw heavy,” she told Rowenna de Manning that summer; potter-speak for the expected durability of her work.

By the end of September 1992, the Guild was the proud owner of 20 beautiful bowls and platters from the hands of Morgaina, in the style we had requested. For nearly 40 years, the beautiful pottery she created for the Guild has held up to the wear and tear of banquets. Serving food in these dishes has enhanced the presentation of many of our feasts. When we had to discard some items that did get chipped, she made more!

A pottery bowl and a pottery plate
Guild Pottery made by Morgaina. Photo by Rowenna de Manning

In the 21st century, some commercial designers turned to “ethnic” designs for some of their pottery ware, and we added other platters and bowls from commercial sources that are colorful and add variety to our serving-ware. Morgaina’s handmade bowls and plates remain stalwarts of our serving collection.

Morgaina atte Wodelonde is a Laurel in the Society for Creative Anachronism, recognition of mastery in her art, research, teaching, and generosity. She has been making pottery for more than 40 years, and many participants in the SCA proudly use cups and plates made by her. Morgaina sells her beautiful original creations, many of them inspired by objects from pre-17th century art seen in museums and paintings, at her Etsy shop.

Comments are closed.