By Cari Marshall
Photography by KNOXY
A few special friends are coming over for a dinner party. An array of seasonal dishes are bubbling away on the stovetop, the chilled bottle of wine is open, even the rarely used linen napkins are ironed. But when it’s time to serve the meal, the plates are…cracked, chipped and altogether very un-special. Screech!
It’s time your dinnerware receives the same loving attention as the meals it cradles.
And you’re in luck—just as Austin celebrates extraordinary seasonal and handmade foods, there’s also a place nearby spotlighting local, artisanal dinnerware to befit those delightful morsels: Sunset Canyon Pottery in Dripping Springs.
Bridget and Bill Hauser are the visionaries behind Sunset Canyon, founded in 1997 as a venue for Bridget to create and showcase her pottery and the works of other local ceramic artists. Part gallery and part artisan studio, Sunset Canyon’s building—a green-built straw-bale structure with a rainwater-collection system—is itself one enormous clay pot. “As I worked on stuccoing the building,” says Bridget, “I saw it as the largest piece of pottery I ever worked on.”
For Bridget, a dinner plate should be as special as the meal it presents. “Homegrown or locally grown food has become important for its role in sustaining not only our bodies, but our families and communities as well,” she says. “This food, presented on beautiful, handcrafted ware, frames not only that which the food represents, but what that moment shared with family and friends represents.”
The gallery offers a dizzying selection of one-of-a-kind ceramics: bakeware (pie plates, tortilla warmers, casserole dishes); serving ware (chip-and-dip servers, gravy boats, condiment dishes, soup tureens, wine decanters); dinnerware (plates, goblets, tumblers, salad bowls) and accessories (luminaries, candlesticks, vases, honey pots, soap pumps). Shoppers can customize their dinner set—choosing from a rainbow of luscious glazes with names like Aurora, Seafoam, Evening Shade and Woodland. Customers can also choose to either purchase a single work of art or piece together an entire collection, as many couples have done as a very special wedding registry. All of the dinnerware and bakeware is safe in the microwave, dishwasher and oven (as long as it’s not preheated).
Seven artisans work in the vast studio behind the retail space: Bridget, plus six ceramic artists who help produce the studio’s line. They build each unique piece by hand, one at a time, then fire it in one of several hand-built kilns. The artisans also work on their own projects, many of which are represented in the gallery along with works from several other local, regional and national artists.
David and Kathi Sherby are perhaps the store’s number-one fans—having bought a full set several years ago. The set, created by Bridget and with a barrel-cactus motif, has proven to be durable both physically and stylistically, and it still makes for great conversation at dinner parties. “Guests always seem to ask about them, due to their one-of-a-kind, handmade nature and glazing,” Kathi says. “Each one is a piece of original handmade art. There’s nothing else like it out there.”
Sunset Canyon Pottery
4002 E. U.S. Hwy 290