I’ve been having a love affair with handmade ceramics for years now, and the work of one particular artist has captured my heart - that of French potter, Thierry Doublet. He has been crafting beautiful objects since the 1970s in an unassuming workshop situated in the middle of nowhere, France. How I was first introduced to his work was by way of a casual alfresco dinner on the stone terrace of a centuries old chateau. The owner of the chateau, a marvelous chef, and his lovely wife, served glasses of chilled rosé and the most delicious piment d'espelette shrimp presented in one of Thierry’s large handmade shallow bowls. Sounds dreamy, I know. And it was. Almost immediately, I became obsessed with learning about the ceramicist that created the gorgeous bowl - and how I could add his pieces to my own collection. The very next morning I found myself driving the backroads of the French countryside, making my way to his studio. In the years since I first discovered his work, I have returned again and again each time I visit France.
When I arrived on my most recent visit, Thierry was in the studio working on a series of small bowls. His work is prolific to say the least. Everything you see on these shelves was created by him. His studio warehouse is overflowing with ceramics in various stages of completion - greenware drying out before going into the kiln, other pieces awaiting their glaze, and some ready to go into the kiln for their second, and final, firing. Thierry even makes his own signature sandstone clay. Which to me, is just astonishing.
One of the hand painted design motifs that he creates is called Fleur Charantaise. It’s a neutral, speckled gray base, with little blue three-petal flowers. These flowers are emblematic of the Charantes region, hence the name Fleurs Charantaises. In the past, certain families would utilize this petite flower as a symbol of their identity, power, and wealth, but now it simply makes for a lovely surface pattern. Thierry told me there is a local cognac distillery that serves their signature flaming cocktail in his handmade cups. Apparently they place a sugar cube in the saucer and pour cognac over it before lighting it on fire!
I have been so inspired by Thierry, and other French potters whose work I collect, that I recently started taking pottery classes at a nearby studio. I spend several hours a week learning the craft and have to say it’s been the most relaxing hobby I’ve ever tried. There are no lofty goals and absolutely no worries about making mistakes or imperfect pieces. My sole intention is to be fully present and to learn. So far, I’ve made a few slab work pieces (those made by handwork alone) and have thrown about ten bowls and plates on the wheel. I save videos and photos of my weekly projects in my story highlights on IG - under the title Ceramics, as a way to document my progress and to see how my creative journey transpires over the coming year.
You can find Thierry’s studio and shop on highway D674 in Parcoul, France. It’s situated about an hour’s drive north-east of Bordeaux. You’ll need a car in order to get there, because as I mentioned, in the middle of the rural countryside and certainly not on any tourist map. If you ever find yourself nearby, I hope you’ll stop for a visit. For me, discovering hidden gems like these creates the most unique travel experiences and certainly, memories that will last a lifetime.
Gendreau Fayette, 24410 Parcoul, France