Pottery Flounders by Rosalie and Tom Nadeau
Rosalie and Tom Nadeau met while working on different commercial wooden fishing boats in the early '70s.
"Tom and I are partners," Rosalie said of the Pottery Flounder process. "We share the tasks required in making each piece one at a time."
Tom makes slabs from which he cuts the fish forms Rosalie designed of five flounder species. He applies the scales from custom crocheted “doilies” and rolls beads for the eyes.
Rosalie drapes the flat fish over clay humps made in various sizes for the fish to assume the shapes of platters and bowls. When they are almost firm, they are signed, the species name is added on the back, and their shapes are adjusted.
After drying, flounders are bisque fired so they won’t dissolve but remain porous to accept the glazes which Tom mixes from powdered minerals. After bathing each fish, he paints the underside edges, paints a dot of black as a pupil in each eye, and loads each fish into the spray booth. He wets and sieves and pours the glazes into canisters, while Rosalie suits up in a butcher’s coat and shower cap to spray layers of glaze. "When the glazes dry Tom loads the flounders into glaze kilns for the final high firing," Rosalie said. "Opening the cooled kiln is always surprising as no two firings are exactly alike!"
"When we met, my pottery studio was in the basement of a two hundred year old house I was renting," she explained. "When we married we moved my studio into the garage of the Tower House in Brewster while we built our home in Orleans. Then in 1978 Pottery Flounders studio came to our own basement where we continue to shape clay into flounders and some striped bass!"
A fish tutorial:
Halibut, “king of the flatfish” has no scales, Blackback is the most common flounder, oval and dark. It’s twin, the Lemon Sole, is lighter. Fluke, nicknamed “Southern Flounder” because it faces “south” as in southpaw, has a larger mouth, a tail divided in 3 peaks, and I glaze it dark blue. The Sand Dab is a rounder flounder, its form suggesting I make it as bowls or round plates, whereas the other flounders become oval plates and platters.
A sports fishing friend requested we make the first Striper (not a flatfish) and we continue to make this highly prized catch from porcelain for its precious whiteness. -Rosalie Nadeau
See the Nadeau's Pottery Flounders here