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Frances Palmer Pottery

Martha Stewart Living Television

Potter Frances Palmer's home functions not only as her studio but also as a testing ground for the pieces she produces. She spends most days at the potter's wheel in her basement, while evidence of her craft can be found all around the rest of the house.

A side table by a window holds a collection of vases with fresh cut flowers from Frances's garden; whimsical plates and bowls with pears, figs, and grapes are scattered about; and elegant place settings grace the dining-room table. Creating her own pottery was a natural extension of Frances's other passions: cooking, baking, and gardening. In fact, a tall fluted vase was inspired by a dahlia, a beaded cake plate by homemade scones.

Each piece begins with Frances's vision and a lump of clay. Using some water and her hands, she slowly shapes the clay on the potter's wheel -- a process that requires both strength and finesse. After a piece is shaped, it's left to dry for a few days until it hardens to a leathery consistency. The piece is then returned to the potter's wheel for decoration, at which point Frances may create a scalloped rim or a checkerboard design, or even attach it to a pedestal stand before firing it with a clear glaze for a crackled finish.