Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ouzo, Napkin Rings, and Dinner Parties

Years ago I had more formal dinner parties than I do now. I'd have several friends over and cook a themed meal. I remember once the theme was Greek. I made dolmades or stuffed grape leaves for an appetizer. I served roast leg of  lamb with rosemary. I even made a Greek cheesecake for dessert. We had some Greek wine and even some ouzo. I played Greek music in the background. Temporarily we were all transported from my dining room to a Greek island. It was quite enjoyable.

Do folks do dinner parties any more? Somehow I miss those days. Perhaps I miss the conversations around the dinner table. Maybe I miss the theater of a themed dinner gathering. I'll have to give this more thought. Anyway one day in the studio I had some left over clay and I rolled up some textured rounds of clay. I said to myself, those look like napkin rings. I didn't glaze them I just fired them au natural, naked clay if you will.

Months ago I fired the napkin rings and they've been sitting on the fired work table in the garage. For some reason I thought of them today. I got out some cloth napkins from my hutch and found out the napkin ring diameters aren't quite large enough. To be fair these napkins are very thick and large. Still the napkin rings could be a larger diameter. I can slip a single layer of cloth into the ring but not a double layer.

Trying out the napkin rings made me think of other napkin ring shapes like leaves or branches. I thought of using different clays like speckled and terra cotta. I thought of woven or fiber napkin rings with ceramic beads. Then I thought of colorful or organic napkins displayed on plates. I thought of a whole table displayed with handmade pottery. Can you imagine it? Plates, bowls, napkin rings, cups, mugs, candle holders. Wouldn't that be a wonderful display in a gallery or in an art fair booth? So many ideas so little time. This post is part of Mud Colony what's happening in the studio. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. I also miss dinner parties. My Wedgwood dinner set looks too formal now. I used to buy table cloths, napkin rings, candle holders etc. when I went abroad. I love Greek deserts. I ate three Greek rice puddings a day in Athene for a couple of weeks. :) Yummy!

  2. Hi Midori, thanks, things are definitely less formal nowadays, but I guess even napkin rings could be used for a buffet. three puddings a day, sounds like what I would do, feast away. Ha.

  3. Funny how a simple to make beauty like napkin rings can really set off the table...bring it up a notch as they say. And think Green, using cloth napkins rather than paper always saves a tree! Thanks for inspiring me.

  4. Dinner parties do seem to be very infrequent these days.
    My mother in law used to lay out her very best china, cutlery and crystal. I remember her highly polished silver napkin rings around crisp, white linen.
    To me, a young girl at the time, it was all so daunting!

    I do prefer a more rustic table setting and love eating from handmade clay plates and bowls.

    I love your napkin rings, they add a wonderfully funky touch to natural fibre napkins.
    All handmade pottery, organic hemp napkins, little clay bud vases holding sweet wildflowers picked from the garden laid out on a wonderfully aged wooden table would be a joy to behold indeed.
    And, food tastes so much better served up in beautiful pottery too :)

  5. We have a couple dinner parties each year, we should do more. One of my students was telling me about the very interesting people that she met at a dinner party last weekend. They should not go away, dinner partes are a much better way to connect with our friends then through "social" media.

  6. Hi Vicki, thanks, you've reminded me of the aluminum tea set I had as a child I used to play at having tea parties out of doors with my sister and brothers, we had a grand time and I served oxalis for a salad. Ha. Yes small vases with wild flowers picked from the yard or woods and a nice slightly worn wood table. You've described a beautiful relaxing dinner display here.

    Hi Lori, thanks, oh I think so a dinner party is so much better than over the internet, but yet here I am on the internet. In California we had a group of friends we met with once a month for dinner parties that were potluck and they were so much fun.

  7. I miss dinner parties, too. *sighs* Like you, I'd throw a lot of energy into the evening ahead. But it's just not in vogue any more, a shame as there should be times in one's life when stepping forward means with one's best foot. There's also something about too casual that brings out a certain rawness in people. I sometimes think reality tv triggered this. Nothing shocks.

    I'd crawl to Florida for a plate of dolmades!

  8. I enjoy "themed" meals even if it is just the two of us!
    Every table I set is all handmade pottery... I gave my old Pfaltzgraff stoneware to my niece before we moved south. Years ago the "ex" got to keep the Corelle :-)!

  9. I love all the napkin rings you describe. And I prefer handthrown table settings, no matter the occasion. My sister is a Fiesta lady, so all my dinnerware is up in the glass fronted cupboards.

  10. I have some china that gets used only once or twice a year. I guess that's enough to justify having it!

  11. Hi Linda...yes,so many ideas! Our dinner parties are much less formal now too, and come to think of it, we don't call them dinner parties anymore, just gatherings of friends and family. Sometimes, too, a friend may call late in the day,inquire if we have dinner plans, and if not, we often have impromptu 'order and eat-in' dinners..mainly so we can just get together, no prep. time required,just food and fun.. It is a great idea, and if we get to eat off of handcrafted plates, all the better! :)..cheers, T.

  12. It is the best part of being an artist when the idea's flow and crowd the brain. I admire your love for exploring and cooking meals. I am not a good cook. :( Sadly, it does not seem like people get together for much of anything anymore. But I bet if you cooked...they would come ! :)

  13. also really like the platters or plates UNDER the napkin rings... beautiful! did you make those (from pics 1 and 2)?

  14. Hi Kittie, thanks, I think you hit it on the head, stepping forward. I always thought of the dinner parties as giving to friends a relaxing and enjoyable time in the their lives, what entertaining should be like. Just the use of the word entertaining, an day or evening out for friends and hopefully they reciprocate. Ha. I have some canned grape leaves in the frig, I have made myself hungry for them too, soon, very soon, I'll make some and if you're ever near by let me know in advance and I'll make them for you.

    Hi Michele, thanks, themed, just for the fun of it, slapstick, silly, entertaining, most times is left for children's parties, but no reason it can't be for adults too. Now I have to look up Pflatzgraff to see what they look like. You know I have the vintage corelle the folks left here I am using and the vintage ones are just slightly better than the new ones as they don't scratch as easily.

    Hi Joanne, thanks, oh yes I remember Fiesta ware, I worked at a restaurant in college that had Frankoma dinner ware if you recall those earthy brown ones. I had a cup from there but it is long since gone.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, with this last move I got rid of my china, I have a goal to make a whole set of pottery dinnerware for myself but haven't gotten there yet. Soon I hope.

    Hi Trish, thanks, yes I guess they aren't called dinner parties any longer but still they were fun. Nowadays we have BBQs or informal get togethers ourselves.

    Hi Dee, thanks, yes if I cooked I could probably entice them to come. I like to get everything prepared in advance so I can enjoy the evening as well. Soon I may have a dinner party, perhaps only slightly formal. Ha.

    Hi Amy, thanks, yes I made those plates, one of kind each. Hopefully I can settle on some that I like well enough to make a whole set for myself. Or maybe I just need some mix and match. I really must work on that.

  15. People do still do dinner parties. Well they do in my world. Love the napkin holders and the green dish too.

  16. Love the idea of napkin rings Linda! I've never tried them myself but might just have to give it a go! Leaves sound lovely!


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