A Story About the Rustic Pearl Potter.
Over the course of many years, I’ve had the opportunity to befriend a fellow adventurer and creative spirt, Margo Meisel, the creator of Rustic Pearl Pottery. Last month, I helped produce the ‘soft launch’ of the handmade collection of stoneware she calls “Little Meditations’, work she’s been preparing since her return to Michigan upon completion of extensive, immersive training at The Potter’s Studio in Berkey, CA.
Bustling around her flat in Grosse Point Park, I helped arrange tables and chairs, plants, and art so as to best highlight individual pieces for her exhibition. In doing so and observing the things she chooses to surround herself with, I began to contemplate my friend in a new light. I knew of Margo’s passion for fine food, wine and the written word, attributes we both share, and I knew that she has trained in yoga, but before helping to highlight her work, I had not fully grasped how each of these specific passions manifest in her pottery.
Margo and I have frequently talked about my helping her to launch her brand and while flattered, studio art is not something I have ever represented, so I have felt compelled to listen and learn rather than instruct. In working to understand her specific aesthetic, I asked for her to tell me what drives her creatively. Margo responded, while sorting through the pieces that felt best represented her vision, I’m “inspired by authentic exploration…” to create “…simple iterations from things that are wild and move with the seasons.” With that important piece to the equation solved, I considered that her time in California, surrounded by nature, organic farms, and farm to table cuisine likely served as the proverbial backdrop for her creative expression and that the esoteric qualities of that lifestyle and its attributes motivate her now.
We talked a little further over a glass of wine and I asked about her yoga training – did she plan to instruct? How did that play into her vision for her artists self? Honestly, it seemed a particularly challenging time squeeze, but her explanation led me in a different direction than anticipated. I learned that it is her intensive yoga training that has helped her to define and create the kind of art she wants to share with the world. “By breathing into the body and core I find nourishment’” she said. “I breathe into the process and engage the calm mind into the creation of an inclusive community.” Intrigued, because it sounds somewhat poetic, I must admit however, as a less ‘artsy’ person than she, I was somewhat perplexed by the idea that pieces of pottery can create a community. I asked her to elaborate further. Because Margo and I are in similar life stages, we often discuss our philosophies about how and where to find fulfillment in our work and personal lives, thus, I knew I was stirring the pot for conversation rather than presenting her with a challenge.
Leading me to the shelving holding her wares, Margo pointed out the individual groupings she had put on display. Gesturing to several small, matched tumblers similar in size to sake cups, she said “these are ‘Small Sips’. They are vessels for something to toast.” Given that one is never supposed to pour one’s own sake, and that when consumed with others, it is often for celebratory purposes, I thought, OK, toasting is definitely a social thing and therefore community experience. Considering the set of dishes my wife and I reserve for ourselves for date night because of the sentimentality they bring as the first gift we received as a couple, I imagined someone using Margo’s ‘Small Sips’ in a similar manner. What, I wondered, could be more inclusive, indeed, restorative, than a couple stealing quiet time with one another. Or two friends catching up, or I guess, at base, toasting anything at all is a communal activity.
“What about these?’ I asked, pointing to a group of stacked bowls. Margo smiled as she explained to me “bowls are to snack, to share, when you marry the small and the large, they’re the vessels for a whole, nourishing meal.” And with that I thought of many meals shared with Margo and how in all the time that we’ve known her there has not been a single time when something, a nibble of something special, at the very least, was not in front of us. My wife and I frequently entertain and sharing meals with friends at our home is our preferred method of socialization. Picturing these moments in my head, it was hard not to contemplate how personal the experience becomes when there is a back story about the vessels we choose to serve and share with. How, when we go to the homes of others, often the history of the pieces being used becomes a topic of conversation. Dining with others and achieving nourishment for the belly and soul, is without a doubt, one of the most holistic means of community building. Check: Margo picked up on that, too. I was quickly beginning to be sold on the idea of her concept in its simplest, most base form.
Next, she shared vases with which “to hold garden flowers or express wild color.” Knowing already that art is supposed to enhance the quality of our everyday experiences, that Margo had crafted vases with which to hold the simple things that decorate our lives daily – I felt I needed no further explanation. But I did find it interesting to note that she specified “wildflowers.” This felt an authentic testament to her hope that her work “curates a collective experience that enables [my collectors] to enjoy a peaceful, authentic expression.
There is something to be said about the difference in store bought bouquets versus those that are grown at our home, by us. Margo seems to note that and, accordingly, crafts planters “for something to grow”. In her own words, Margo “explores mediums that touch [us] in a surprisingly complicated simplicity through the form and function of her work.” Having just completed my ‘tour’ of her work and the motivation behind her collection, I felt that I had gleaned a new understanding of the mind of artist, not just for what they seek to create for the vision of its lifespan but for the experience their pieces can offer their collectors.
The few hours I spent getting to know Margo, not as my friend, but as the Rustic Peral Potter, provided me with some very cool insight into an artist’s mind – the spirituality they invoke toward their creation. Likely because I’ve never taken the time to ask an artist why they create. I’m avid collector of antiques, crystal, paintings, and other objet d’art for the beauty I find from relics of previous generation’s lifestyles and the mood they evoke when put to good use. While pottery has never been my thing, the Rustic Pearl planter that I glance at intermittently, now sitting on the desk where I spend multiple hours a day tackling my manuscript, leads me to a new understanding of the steps involved in peacefully, authentically expressing my best life. It makes me pleased to know I’ve joined a community of people all seeking to do the same. Cheers.
Jeremy Tick and his wife, Elizabeth found their Manhattan in Detroit. After five years in The Park Shelton, Jeremy now works and writes from his home in Grosse Pointe.