Wow, what a day! By the time we made it to our destination, the pottery shop was closed for lunch. So we took the hint and went to find our own lunch spot. We drove into Cassis, a picturesque little town nestled into a harbor on the Mediterranean, often described as the poor man’s St. Tropez. It was a beautiful day and we were able to soak up some sun while enjoying our crepes.
Then it was back to work and today I was planning to really put Jessica (my friend, who’s acting as French translator) to the test. We went to Poterie Ravel, a 5th generation family-run business that employs 20 artists in the small commercial town of Aubagne. Most of their work consists of large planters that they sell to high end hotels and stores (most recently Louis Vuitton!). However, when I visited 4 years ago I was struck by room after room of simply glazed pitchers, bowls, platters, and vases, which they only sell to visiting customers. I took a ton of pictures during that first visit and have looked forward to the time when I could return with a plan of how to get this beautiful French pottery back home.
Jessica quickly befriended a saleswoman named Patricia. She explained my business and my hope of buying their pottery to add to the Emilia Ceramics collection. Patricia approved! She told us that her boss was in a meeting with the town Mayor but that as soon as she was done, she’d come meet us. Well at this point there was nothing to do but start shopping!! We cleared a table and I went to work, quickly filling it with pitchers and bowls that had been carefully crafted and dipped in soft, touchable glazes ranging from subtle aqua and white, to bright yellow and orange.
Just about finished, Jessica and I were adopted by Gil who took us on a tour of the atelier. He showed us the molds used for the large planters, the wheels where smaller pieces were thrown, the glazes used to create such brilliant colors, and a kiln that was packed to capacity and ready for firing. We were introduced to Ettiene (pictured below) as well as a few other artists, who explained how after making a piece, the artist is responsible for stamping it… first with the Poterie Ravel stamp, then with the year’s stamp, and finally with their own initials. Gil’s GS was stamped on the yellow pitcher I’d picked out, Ettiene’s EP was on the white platter, and so on. Such a nice and personable touch!
As we finished our tour, we were met by Marion who runs Poterie Ravel along with her younger sister. She is outgoing, personable, and speaks great English! Marion approved of my selections and assured me that she’d help facilitate the pick-up and pack-up of my pottery. Everything had turned out great: Jessica’s French saved the day and the pottery was just as lovely as I had remembered. I drove away ecstatic to be able to add Poterie Ravel to the new Emilia Ceramics French Collection!