Heirloom Bowl

24 July 2011 · 2 comments

Black cherry bowl by David Lory

Summer is finally in full swing here in Chicago. Are you enjoying yours? I know I am. So much so that I haven’t had those spare moments to write for more than a month now. I’ve been super busy celebrating graduations and the holidays, shopping the farmers’ market every week, biking along the lakefront, hitting the art fairs, and getting out to Wisconsin to a farm party.

Now that I’ve taken a break, I’m ready to get back to writing about all the foods and finds I’m coming across. One is this rich auburn black cherry bowl, above, that I now have for my summer salads. I bought it from husband-and-wife team David and Suella Lory, from Platteville, Wisconsin, who show at the 57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park. When I first saw the wooden bowls on display three years ago, I was stuck at how gorgeous and well made they were. I knew some day I had to have one (since I didn’t yet have a proper salad bowl). This year was the year.

The Lory’s booth typically has a swarm of fair-goers examining and running their hands over the array of bowls of all shapes, sizes, and types of wood. A small number of bowls are made from hard-to-find burls, those snarly malformations that sometimes develop on trees. Consider yourself lucky if you come across one. But no matter what bowl you fall in love with, you’ll know it’s one of a kind.
Bottom of bowl inscription

David Lory loved working with wood as a kid with his father and then in 4-H. More than 30 years ago, he was one of two students to enroll in an apprenticeship-type class at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Today, he and Suella work as a team to create unusually thin bowls of wood. It takes David hours of craftsmanship to transform a hunk of wood into a nicely shaped bowl. To achieve the final coveted thinness of about 1/8th of an inch, he uses a special tool that keeps a fine edge longer than conventional woodworking tools. After a bowl is shaped it gets baked for hours, followed by several coats of epoxy. In-between coats, Suella hand sands and rubs the surface with special paper and fine steel wools.

The end product is a light, durable bowl as smooth as a baby’s bottom. These carefully made bowls the Lory’s consider destined to become heirlooms. While beautiful on their own, I like that they can be used to serve food and salads—oil and vinegar dressing and all. Just wash with warm, soapy water.

So how do you get yours? The Lory’s business operations are pretty low tech. They show at only two art fairs a year—the 57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park, Chicago (in early June) and the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, Wisconsin (early July)—and don’t have a website. But you can call them or exchange e-mails, and they will gladly send photos of bowls available. It’s helpful to describe the types of woods you’re interested in and approximate measurements (whether a small, medium, or large bowl). The black cherry bowl I purchased was about 13 inches in diameter and 4 ½ inches deep and priced at $195.

David and Suella Lory
5604 Southwest Road
Platteville, Wisconsin 53818-6344
Tel 608.348.6344
E-mail: davelory@centurytel.net

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SUELLA LORY January 12, 2012 at 7:46 am


My cousin sent me this link . I am so pleased you are enjoying your bowl. We work hard to provide a piece that is lovely as well as useful. The 57th Street Art fair is a favorite for years. I love the people we get to meet there and it is often like a reunion catching up with families we have gotten to meet over the more than 30 years we have done that show.
I will have to book mark your blog to keep track of good stuff in Chicago.
Suella Lory

Lydia January 12, 2012 at 8:50 am

Thanks for writing Suella. The bowl is beautiful, and I am enjoying it. We do have some great fairs in the Chicago area that are always interesting and fun to go to … especially after the long winters!

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