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The Inspiration for our Pinecone Pattern

East coast pines shed their grace on this special pottery line.

The stately pine appears again as a Pottery pattern. This time it is the cones that are featured with wisps of pine boughs around. The brush easily describes the clustered pinecone in upturned brown strokes as well as the pine green boughs in swift arcs. Always there is the whooshing sound of the white pine boughs as they rustle in the wind which, if heard in the artist’s mind, facilitates the realism in the brush. Often there is the deep blue green coolness beneath each tree, which, if imagined as one strokes, replicates the color. We find that the pine lends itself beautifully to our pottery and gives a natural and rustic charm to our dinnerware, bakeware, kitchen ware and home decor.

The evergreen quality of pine trees enhances the symbology of the pine as everlasting or immortal. I think of pine trees as being consistent and steadfast. Certainly their symbology in Japanese scroll painting is noted, and the lonesome pine in Early American tapestry and decoration is remembered.

Old Mr. Dame, a local farmer in my childhood, told me about the number of needles in the needle-socket. He said that if it is a white pine it will have an odd number of needles and if it is a red or black pine, it will have an even number. This is certainly true of the pines that I grew up with. Back in the days before paved schoolyards and metal play equipment, our recess time was spent building huts under the great white pines. We would use a pine bough as a broom and sweep pathways in the pine needles strewn across the forest floor, making rooms just large enough for one or two people to crouch in. After establishing the home, we would meet in adjoining rooms, my hut and your hut sharing a room, and make pine needle necklaces.

How to make a pine needle necklace

Remove all but one of the needles from the needle-socket, being careful not to damage the sticky socket. Flex the remaining long needle over and insert the tip into the socket, it will hold. Do the same with the next pine needle cluster, this time interlacing the tip into the previous loop before closing. When you have a long enough chain attach the ends and place over your head, or that of your friend.

Pine tree sap is sticky and difficult to remove from clothes or hands. Many-a-time I would come home from climbing pine trees with the telltale evidence all over me. I enjoyed tremendously the stepped laddering of the pine branches, making them easy to climb. We learned in 4th grade science class that you can tell how old a pine tree is by counting each of the tiers of branches. When I was a child, we would race to count out the age of a towering pine.

Along the Emerson Creek in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, original home of the Pottery, there are three massive Hemlock trees. This stately evergreen with delicate flat needles grows slowly and steadily along the quiet shaded glens of New England. The lowest branches of these trees were well over my head. But, with a scramble and the help of lower branches on a nearby river birch, I would be able to hoist myself up and begin the ascent to the top. Now this tree, the one by the largest boulder just below the old millrace, was huge. It took two people to reach their arms around it at chest height. So as I would climb up, branch tier by tier, the trunk of the tree would become manageably smaller until I could reach my arms around it. The higher I climbed, emerging above the tops of the oaks, the Hemlock would still tower over me. I could see the old post and beam barn, and the 15 room farmhouse, original home of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s uncle, (thus the name Emerson Creek). Still higher I climbed until the trunk began to sway from my weight, but determined, I shimmied up until I was able to wave my hand over the very tip. I suspect this Hemlock was well over 300 years old and hopefully still resting by the side of Emerson Creek.

The Pinecone Pattern is one of many pine patterns that we’ve made on our pottery. But always it is with these memories that the decoration begins. The pinecones decorate the pottery in much the same way that they decorate the pine trees and continue the cycle of memories.

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