May/June 2001

Beautiful Bowls

The islands’ artists, galleries, and gift shops have many unique creations that will bowl you over. In fact, some of their most sought-after pieces actually are bowls. The lovely ones pictured here function as utilitarian or decorative items—or both.

Out of the Wood
Sanibel artist Marianne Ravenna acquires maple bowls from a mill in Vermont and paints fruit, vegetables, seashells, mermaids, fish, and other attractive, nature-based themes on them. She uses acrylic paints on some, finishing with five layers of water-based polyurethane, or colored stains and five layers of salad bowl finish. “A lot of people like to see the wood,” Ravenna notes. She often receives custom orders, especially for flower designs. The bowls, which are not for hot food, come in diameters of 8, 10, 12, 15, or 17 inches. Sanibel, 941/395-0751.

Clay Creations
Two-piece or three-piece “squared-off” mixing bowls of high-fired stoneware are big sellers at A Touch of Sanibel Pottery, where they are produced through a team effort by in-house
potters. The unique bowls can be purchased separately and the studio store also takes custom orders. The shop also features bowls and baskets made from extruded clay and “woven” for an old-fashioned look. Phil Sellers, the owner of River Hill Pottery in Madison, Ohio, creates the pieces, which “sell like crazy.” They come in earth tones such as green, tan, slate blue, and gray. 1544 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 941/472-4330.

Glass with Class—and a little Sass
Nationally known glass artist Lucas Century, who lives on Sanibel, has several of his hand-colored, etched bowls at The Black Orchid Art Gallery. Favorites include a butterfly bowl with purples, pinks, and a hint of yellow. Century’s sandpiper designs are popular, too. The Borowski family of Poland has gained fame for its glass bowls, which the gallery also carries. A greenish/clear-colored alligator bowl, in a clever half-canoe shape, sports an orange and green striped tail, and the family’s whimsical “kiss” bowl has bright red lips. 705 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 941/472-8784.

Mexican Accent
This hand-blown, green and blue salad bowl comes from Mexico and is available at Traders Store & Café. “The bubbles in the glass are what makes it so beautiful and gives it personality,” explains Sanibel retail manager Marguerite Jordan. The base is 10 inches and the opening is 27 inches in diameter. Just as striking are large and small hand-beaded bowls from Jalisco, Mexico. The tiny, multicolored beads are affixed to carved gourds and tell stories by depicting Mexican designs or costumed people. 1551 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 941/395-3151 or 26501 South Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, 941/949-0756.

Designs on Dishes
Sanibel’s fun new Seaweed Gallery is now home to Pine Island artist Mel Meo’s wooden bowls, which she decorates with acrylic paint and seals with very shiny varnish. Meo recently closed her studio store “to concentrate on more art.” She’s been busy creating such works as this green seaweed-striped bowl with an orange sea turtle inside, and this pink and green striped bowl with a pink hibiscus in the middle. 2055 Periwinkle Way, Suite 3, Sanibel, 941/472-2585.

Reform of Function
Pottery bowls from Papua New Guinea, are coiled by village women and painted with ceremonial designs by the men. Interior colors are strong earth tones such as brown or black and the designs are in orange, gold, gray, and white. The bowls, which are not made to eat out of, are for storing fruit and vegetables and would just be stuck in the sand in the potters’ homeland. Available at Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, The Village, 2340 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 941/395-2200.