I’ve been following the Etsy store Ant’s Pottery for quite some time now–since 2008! In fact, I got my first working athame from her son, Jensen. The potter, Antonia Barry, did remove her shop from Etsy for much of 2009 and 2010 as she nursed one of her sons (not Jensen!) through his final illness, but she returned better than ever.
Naturally, I’m most drawn to Ant’s pagan pottery, which has included all sorts of ceramic cauldrons, bowls (I lust after her scrying bowls), altar tiles, and figurines. What I find most unique, though, are her ritual hearths, which she created in order to perform hearth magic in a home without a fireplace.
When she first started making them in early 2008, the hearths were really just the “chimney piece,” as I like to call it, without a dish-like hearth surrounding them. By late 2008, the hearths had become a little shorter, were surrounded by a flat plate, and had a little mantle piece above them. These days, Ant seems to be playing with the chimney height, has done away with the mantle piece, slightly cups the plate rim so that it might almost be considered a very shallow bowl, and has the chimney surround a beautiful spiral. The net effect is gorgeous, especially when Ant plays with two-tone glazes.
After drooling over these hearths for almost 4 years–which involved two major bouts of “why didn’t I buy one?!” blues when Ant’s shop went offline and again when it looked like she had stopped making hearths–I finally scraped up the money to buy this beauty when it came up on her site. I couldn’t be happier with it!
Of course, I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my altar (where it looks quite lovely) and my practice. I think that in the long term, it will probably become the “maiden candle” home upon my altar. I think that perhaps it will someday sit between my God and Goddess representations along with the offering bowl(s), probably on a shelf shrine above the altar’s main working surface. I think it would be a very domestic little place: a home for my representations of deity.
I am experimenting a little with using it in my daily practice. Right now, I wake up, make my bed, shower, dress, and eat, then go to my altar, light the hearth candle, ground, and go about my domestic to-do list. If I don’t have to leave the house for anything, I let the candle burn until the tealight puts itself out. I kind of like the idea of keeping the candle lit there as much as possible…but I’m still playing with how safe that might be.
Still, I really, really love this piece and am looking forward to experimenting with it further.