Nourishing Creativity

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Molly Hatch (second from left) consults with students on glaze tests

Ceramics students in the Tableware studio taught by adjunct faculty member Molly Hatch are getting real-world experience working with local restaurateurs Ben and Heidi Sukle, owners of Birch in Providence. The small bistro serves one-of-a-kind dishes prepared by chef Ben, whose creative use of locally produced ingredients has earned such accolades as a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2012. The eclectic menu at Birch is complemented by a diverse collection of handmade tableware, and this spring students are working on new collections of plates, bowls, creamers and vases designed to work well with the restaurant’s menu and atmosphere.

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Birch owners Heidi and Ben Sukle visiting RISD’s ceramics studios

The Sukles visited RISD last week to review glaze tests and were excited about the students’ progress thus far. “I love these random iron spots,” Ben noted as he examined a pale gray glaze flecked like oatmeal. He and Heidi selected a variety of preferred glazes so that the work produced this spring won’t look too “matchy matchy.” They were drawn to the thinner matte finishes, which ­“allow marks from the handwork to show through,” as Hatch pointed out.