I love November in Maryland. With it’s whirlwind of colorful falling leaves, cups of hot apple cider, and firepits with family and friends, these are just a few autumn reminders of the simple joys in life. November allows us to take pause in some ways, as we catch our breath and self-reflect before the holiday season is upon us. This pause leads us perfectly into the unassuming premise of Thanksgiving. Travel plans and menu plans and seating arrangements aside, at the core of it all, is gratitude. At the end of this month, we will find a way (via phone, virtually, or in person), to gather with those we love, to find a connection, and to give thanks. We will be reminded, even this year, especially this year, of the power of gratitude as we gain an appreciation for what really matters in life. We will gather and we will give thanks for the simple things; for food, for drink, and for the gift of the company of those sharing in these moments.
The Giving Plate
This plate belongs to everyone
wherever it may go…
with each new sharing of its gift,
the love and blessings grow.
So, fill it up
and pass in on to family and to friends…
to start the circle one more time,
love’s journey never ends.
There are many versions of the Giving Plate poem above, but the essence of the message is all the same. Create something with love, pass it on with love, and watch the love continue and grow. To start the tradition, one makes some special treat to put on the Giving Plate, and when that treat is given, the plate and its message are also given as part of the gift. The Giving Plate is a way to pay it forward; to give with no expectations of anything in return beyond a hope that the recipient may feel called to do the same for someone else down the road.
I first stopped into the Clay Bakers on Main Street to chat with the owner Kärin Montgomery. The Clay Bakers is a paint-your-own pottery studio and my family and I have enjoyed creating our own versions of pottery ‘masterpieces’ there for years. Just pick from one of their many pieces of pottery, paint it any way you like, and they will glaze and fire it for you.
The Clay Bakers is a paint-your-own-pottery studio on Main Street. Photo courtesy of the author.
The love and energy put into it could make it all the more meaningful. In addition to creating a Giving Plate, there are many other options that would make wonderful gifts. They have many plates with a basic design that are about being thankful, in which the painter fills in the design with the color combination of their choice. The Clay Bakers is offering various holiday themed activities in the upcoming months.
They also take reservations for individual families that want to create pottery together in a small and safe environment, such as their sweet turkey project utilizing each family member’s hand print. Photo courtesy of the author.
The Annapolis Pottery features a mix of pieces produced in their on-site studio, along with other pottery from artists around the continent. Photo courtesy of the author.
My next pottery stop was a short hop up the street to The Annapolis Pottery, an Annapolis staple that sits on the corner of Cornhill Street and State Circle. Upon entering you will be surrounded by a sea of stunning ceramics, featuring a mix of pieces produced in their on-site studio. In addition, they carry pottery from artists around the continent. I spoke with Hannah Murphy, daughter of the owners Pat and Melanie Murphy. Hannah has been working in the shop since she was a little girl, first paid in chicken nuggets and hugs, it is apparent her love of pottery is something that has been instilled in her from a young age.
Hannah's parents started The Annapolis Pottery 50 years ago. Photo courtesy of the author.
Hannah and the rest of the staff at The Annapolis Pottery would be happy to create a commissioned version of the Giving Plate for anyone interested. They have so many timeless pieces that any gift from the shop would be considered an act of great giving.Hannah and the rest of the staff at The Annapolis Pottery would be happy to create a commissioned version of the Giving Plate for anyone interested.
Just up from Boatyard Bar and Grill sits Quirk N Bach Pottery in Eastport. Photo courtesy of the author.
My third and final stop on my pottery trail was in my old stomping grounds of Eastport. Nestled on fourth street near the newly opened Forward Brewery sits Quirk N Bach Pottery. The beautiful pottery pieces are created right there in the studio by owners Kristin Quirk Clevenger and Cameron Bach. I had the pleasure of chatting with Bach as her partner in crime was busy creating in the studio in the back. The beautiful pottery pieces are created right there in the studio by owners Kristin Quirk Clevenger and Cameron Bach. As soon as I walked in the door, a bright and inspiring space surrounded me. The shop feels like a day on the bay with functional ceramics in beachy blue hues, reminiscent of the Chesapeake. The feeling continued as I noted the decorative ceramic Canada geese flying across the wall near the ceiling. Any home would shine a little brighter with a piece of pottery from this Eastport gem. Furthermore, they take on commissions and would be more than happy to create a Giving Plate for you to pass along as a cherished gift.
They take on commissions and would be more than happy to create a Giving Plate for you to pass along as a cherished gift. Photo courtesy of the author.
In Search of the Giving Plate
The Giving Plate is a new tradition with such a sweet notion. It could easily reach ‘Elf on the Shelf’ status in no time at all. Maybe you are in charge of bringing some roasted vegetables to Thanksgiving this year. Maybe you have volunteered to bring the pumpkin pie. A Giving Plate could be the perfect hostess gift beyond just the food. As the holidays go into full swing, the pumpkin pie might be replaced for the next recipient with Christmas cookies, Latkes for Hanukkah, or some other treat full of goodness. A Giving Plate could be the perfect hostess gift beyond just the food. Annapolis is home to so many wonderful and creative businesses and artists. With so many options, whether the Giving Plate poem is imprinted on the plate, contained in a simple note attached, or if the intent is for the recipient to just hold onto a gifted piece of pottery from one of these unique shops for years to come, gratitude will surely be a part of the exchange. Happy Thanksgiving!