Create the perfect setting for a memorable meal with handcrafted pottery and porcelain from two of the most notable tableware designers in our area.
Before raw clay becomes beautiful pottery, it is simply a beautiful idea. For David Gil, founder of Bennington Potters, that idea was a full line of unique dinnerware, cookware, and serveware that has been made by hand in Vermont since 1948. Today, Bennington Potters is one of the largest working craft potteries in the United States, producing more than 800 handcrafted pieces each day and is located just a hop, skip and a jump from the Berkshires.
You can tour the small potter’s works on County Street in Bennington to watch mugs of dense raw clay being formed, glazed, and fired. The finished pottery is displayed and sold at the 5,400-square-foot home store next door, amongst a vast collection of furniture, table linens, flatware, and glassware. You’ll find a few Vermont-made food and gift items, too, and whimsical novelty pieces like the Bennington Potters Frog Mug, with a tiny ceramic creature inside the cup that is revealed only when the contents are emptied. Between a chat with the potters on the self-guided tour and time spent in the shop, plan to meander for awhile.
Form and function combine with exquisite artistry in the fine bone china and porcelain tableware designed by Michael Wainwright in Great Barrington. Signature gilded pieces are hand-decorated with 24kt gold and platinum, inspired by his experience as both a sculptor and jeweler. Michael also designs the metal flatware, glassware, and wooden serving pieces that complement his dinnerware collections. You’ll find them all for sale at his studio store on Route 7, and at luxury retailers across the country.
Celebrating 25 years this year, Michael still creates his design prototypes in his Berkshire studio, where he welcomes visitors and embraces the local community. A huge annual Fourth of July sale is held at the studio store in conjunction with a free outdoor event featuring live music, local beer, and grilled pizzas from Old Inn On The Green. Michael is right at the center of it, firing bisque ceramic pieces in his raku kiln that visitors have decorated to take home. Several hundred people have attended this lively event in recent years, so if you’re in the Berkshires to celebrate Independence Day, be sure to make a visit to Michael Wainwright part of your holiday plans.
Nancy Macy is a freelance writer and editor based in the Berkshires.