Bowled Over: Handmade Bowls for Every Occasion

By Claire Larrabee > Back to Blog

During the holiday season, our dining tables take center stage. It’s time for steaming bowls of stuffing, salads overflowing with winter greens, and mouth-watering pies with vanilla ice cream. Part of the fun of hosting (or attending) a festive dinner is deciding how to present all these yummy dishes. What won’t do is that old Melamine salad bowl or Aunt Ida`s chipped vegetable dish.

Paradise City artists have certainly come to the rescue for all of us cooks and eaters. Handmade bowls and serving ware not only offer function, but beauty, style, and whimsy to brighten up any table. Salad bowls, serving bowls, mixing bowls, fruit bowls, cereal bowls, ice cream bowls, ceramic bowls, glass bowls, wood bowls, metal bowls – the styles and variety are endless. I have been on the hunt for some special pieces to show off my cooking efforts and have come across three skilled craftspeople who really bowl me over! In the hands of these artists, the bowl is elevated to an art form.

Dress Up Salads with Hand-Painted Wood Bowls

Soli Pierce has it right when she says “Savor, slow down, eat well, love life.” Her hand-painted salad bowls with their images of fruits and flowers inspire us to linger at the table. Soli hand makes her bowls of maple wood, finishing them with non-toxic materials and four layers of food-safe sealer. The result is a depth of color and design that makes getting to the bottom of any bowl of salad, pasta or fruit a real pleasure.

Soli Pierce hand paints each wooden bowl

I also like what she’s doing for the more traditional among us. Her honed bowls of dark maple wood go from boring to bold with snappy colored rims. Can’t you just see a toss of fresh arugula, pecans and seasonal cranberries with a balsamic dressing served up in one of these beauties?

Solid maple bowls by Soli Pierce


Complement Organic Food with Organic Glass Bowls

Ed Branson’s organic shapes and wow colors are irresistible. His Tropical Bowls will heat up the look of any dining table, delivering a bold splash of color like the brilliant orange combined with Amazon green shown here.

Tropical Bowl by Ed Branson

Ed is one of the most distinguished glass blowers working today. He often chooses to use a single color and then encases the piece in clear crystal for superb brilliance and color depth. The quality of his work and uniqueness of design have been recognized internationally, and he has been included in the prestigious New Glass Review XIII published by the Corning Museum of Glass.

For a more classic look, Ed’s Arbor Bowls will strike the right note of elegance. Imagine bringing a luscious sherry trifle piled high with fruit and whipped cream to the table in one of these stunning bowls. Talk about wow!

Arbor Bowl by Ed Branson


Functional Bowls with a Graffiti-Style Kick

James Guggina brings an entirely different sensibility to the table. James hand makes a wide variety of functional stoneware and wheel-thrown porcelain pieces from salad and serving bowls to small, heavily patterned bowls for soup or ice cream. I adore the idea of a creamy risotto sprinkled with fresh parsley presented in his beautiful blue serving bowl.

Flower Serving Bowl by James Guggina

James loves the tactile quality of clay, and describes the act of throwing a pot on the wheel as “magic.” While he likes to make bowls that are sturdy and user-friendly for everyday use, his work is elevated by the intricate drawings he adds to each one that remind me of art graffiti. It’s actually a technique called sgraffito. He started life as a doodler and painter, and has beautifully melded these talents with his passion for pottery. I think James’ work successfully combines modern and folk art styles, which makes his pieces a great fit in all sorts of homes from the formal colonial to the funky mid-century modern.

James Guggina combines his love of drawing, doodling and clay into uniquely creative bowls


All These Artists Exhibited Their Work at the November 2017 Paradise City Arts Festival

Paradise City Arts Festival, November 17-19, 2017 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center, Marlborough, Mass.