Storts Market

by Lesley Storts


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Pincushion Pal

While on the constant hunt for glass through thrifting and antiquing, I find all kinds of interesting and unique pieces. At times, I do not even know the intended purpose of a piece. I buy unusual pieces with the thought that I may use it eventually. The ceramic glass that inspired the pincushion pal was purchased within the last couple of years and I had it for many months before deciding what to do with it.

Lucy and I thought it might be fun to create a little caddy that could be used for handwork. I mocked one up with the original glass.

After creating the pincushion and many discussions, Lucy and I thought this was a great addition to the pincushions we make so I started hunting for more glass pieces like this. While searching, I finally discovered the origin of the piece. The three holed ceramic dish is the base of a condiment set for a jelly jar and salt & pepper. I searched and found some whole sets on Ebay. I bought one but the base broke during shipping so I only have the jelly jar and salt & pepper.

The antique ceramic pieces have “Made in Japan” or “Made in Occupied Japan” stamped on the bottom. The history behind that stamp and its meaning can be found in this article by The Mercury News. I found another one that is similar but not exactly like the base we had. I realized while searching Ebay, that it was going to be difficult and financially unreasonable to buy the sets and only use the bases.

I started wondering if I could have a ceramic mold made similar to the original. Over the years I have taken my kids to ceramic shops to paint their own ceramic pieces and then have them fired to a finish. I knew that the pieces were made in a mold. I started calling around and after many calls ended up talking with the owner of a local ceramic shop who told me he works with an artist who crafts the molds by hand. Once the mold was completed, the team in the ceramics shop made the pincushion pal using the mold and various glazes picked out by us. It has been a lot of fun to learn about ceramics, see the mold get created then used to make many pincushion bases. This process took months!

When I brought the pincushion pal bases home, I let them sit around for a while. I enjoyed picking them up, feeling the smooth finish and admiring the intense glaze colors Lucy and I had picked out for them. When I started pulling fabric it was a little overwhelming but exciting! As a long time quilting fabric collector and enthusiast, I started contemplating exactly what I wanted for each of the pieces. Match the fabric to the glass? Look for a small element of color in a particular fabric and use it to highlight the glass? So many choices!

One important aspect of the glass was making sure the secondary holes were big enough to seat a large Aurifil spool. I use Gutterman for a lot of my hand piecing and I knew that spool would fit. However, a lot of sewers use Aurifil and making sure that the larger spool would fit was an important element. The ceramic shop employees (I’m pretty sure it’s just Christine ;-)) specifically finish the bases by hand so the Aurifil thread spool will fit.

I am excited to continue making these pincushions and have them available for quilters, sewers, and crafters.

Happy quilting and sewing! ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎