By Benjamin St. Jacques
With inspiration from Alex Marshall Studios
We may not realize it, but dishes play a role in the important moments in our lives. A baby’s first bowl and spoon become keepsakes. The first time a toddler drinks from a cup is a milestone. A newly engaged couple excitedly picks out their china pattern, flatware, and everyday dishes. And for some reason, coffee just tastes better when it’s in your favorite mug.
Simply put, dishes captivate us. And it’s easy to understand why. Dishes, cups, bowls (and all those other kitchen cabinet items) are literally connected to the food we serve to our families, friends, and ourselves. The dishes we have in our homes are a personal choice. We want these items to feel comfortable in our hands, look good to our eyes, and express our unique aesthetic.
So it’s no surprise that people are turning away from rows of mass-produced items in big department stores and embracing the work of artists like Alex Marshall. Founded in 2000, Alex Marshall Studios creates unique dishware that makes a true artistic statement and is practical and durable enough for everyday use.
You won’t find any machines or pottery wheels at Alex Marshall Studios. And there’s certainly no assembly line chugging away. Creating products isn’t a race at this one-of-a-kind studio. It’s just a small team that enjoys the excitement and artistry of producing everything completely by hand.
Andrew Barry, Alex’s husband and business partner, explains, “This is small-batch production. We’re just three people, so everyone participates. Alex comes up with an idea for a piece and we may work on that idea for three or four years until it meets our standards and Alex’s artistic vision. Only then do we put it into production.”
Alex Marshall Studios is also known for its gorgeous glazes. The studio’s ceramics are available in over 25 colors, including calming sea foam, vibrant oxblood, and earthy sienna.
Each piece is either dipped into glaze, or the glaze is poured over the piece. There are no paintbrushes, or spray paints used.
Each step in the process — shaping the clay, firing the dish, applying the glaze — is an opportunity for each piece to develop slight nuances and naturally occurring asymmetries that make Alex’s work so unique.
As Alex Marshall herself says, “We embrace the inconsistencies of the human hand. So pieces will look similar, but never identical.”
Alex is an artist at heart. She was exposed to the art galleries and shops of New York City in her youth by her grandmother. She’s also been trained as an artist, and has a Master’s Degree in Fine Art. Alex headed into the world of fine arts after graduating, but found her passion for that work disappeared within a few years.
“But my passion for ceramics was always there,” she says. “I could always go back into the studio, sculpt with clay and detach.”
Alex brings this passion and artistic sensibility to every piece she makes at Alex Marshall Studios.
Alex Marshall Studios started out with a small line of plates, bowls, and platters, but over the years has expanded its offerings to include lamps, vases, and holiday items. Plus, there’s an entire collection of adorable items for kids and babies, including dish sets, coin banks, and picture frames. All dishes and utensils are lead-free and cadmium-free, which means they’re safe for food. Plus, the products are safe for use in dishwashers and microwaves.
Sustainable earth-friendly practices are just as important as artistry at Alex Marshall Studios. Alex and her husband harness solar energy and source materials locally whenever possible to cut down on fuel consumption. Most importantly, Alex Marshall Studios makes its products to last for several years.
“When something is built to last, it decreases the impact on natural resources and keeps waste out of landfills,” Alex says.
With ceramics from Alex Marshall Studios, everyday life becomes more colorful, more luxurious, more fun. Visit Alex Marshall Studios here, and discover your favorite dish.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com, www.dreamstime.com and alexmarshallstudios.com