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The Mod Potter: Austin Artist Fires Up Ceramics Suited for Backyard Barbecues

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Ceramicist Lindsey Wohlgemuth infuses the ancient art form of pottery with her own modern sensibility

By Ellen Ranta Olson

Ceramicist Lindsey Wohlgemuth’s pottery is perfect for your bookshelf or your next backyard barbecue. Photo by Wynn Myers.
Ceramicist Lindsey Wohlgemuth’s pottery is perfect for your bookshelf or your next backyard barbecue. Photo by Wynn Myers.

Lindsey Wohlgemuth wants you to stop using paper plates for your hot dogs. The Austin native believes that even the most casual of get-togethers deserves a proper dish.

“My main inspiration for creating dinnerware is the old Texas tradition of getting together with friends in the backyard to grill out,” she says. “It’s rarely a fancy experience but it is always special. I’d never want to make a plate so fancy that you couldn’t take it out and use it in the backyard for a sausage or hot dog.”

Wohlgemuth is the artist behind Era Ceramics, the newly rebranded version of her former line, Foxwares. “I’m officially working with my husband on this now, and we really wanted to create something that was ours, not mine,” she says. “We also wanted to make it more modern and functional — pieces that could really serve as your everyday dishes.”

But Wohlgemuth’s aesthetic wasn’t always so minimal and of-the-moment: After studying ceramics at the University of Texas, she delved into more old-school techniques, firing her pieces in backyard pit fires and decorating them with traditional carvings.

“Our poor neighbors had to put up with a weekly smoke monster,” she says with a laugh. “Unfortunately, you can’t actually eat off those kinds of pieces, and that’s such a huge part of our lives, we knew we wanted to transition to making pieces that could actually be used in a kitchen and on the table.”

Since she made the switch to function over form, her pieces are now in use in several of Austin’s restaurants, proving that they really can take the heat of the kitchen. “It’s kind of the ultimate test for a plate, isn’t it? If they can survive multiple restaurant services, I know they’ll be great in the home,” she says.

That’s not to say, though, that Wohlgemuth has forsaken design for utility altogether. “They’re just much more versatile now,” she says. “The color palette is both masculine and feminine, and everything is more sleek and modern.”

While the pieces are still stunning on the shelf, she says, they look even better on the patio table.

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