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Farm Motifs Invade Housewares

April 04, 1985|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

They're here . . . bunnies, chickens, ducks, geese, cats, cows and pigs. Somehow these farm and domestic animals have infiltrated every nook and cranny in the house, livening up houseware designs from kitchen to bathroom.

When former hobby ceramic teacher Helen Hacker gave up her teaching job to start a cottage industry with her ceramic pieces, she didn't realize how large her "farm" would grow in a span of three years. Owner-designer of L.A. Ceramics, Hacker and partner Noburo Kanayama hand paint each animal motif and fuse it on trays, jar tops, candleholders, boxes, plates, napkin rings and bells. The line is clean and fresh looking, easily matchable with any existing pattern. White was logically selected for a base color, and pastels in the same palette of colors accentuate it.

A Hint of the Italian

Reminiscent of Italian works, the details in these dainty little farm animals are airbrushed, and all pieces are glazed and fired to exceed recommended temperatures for food safety.

The pieces we picked here make charming accents for the Easter table: a napkin ring holder with two little bunnies in the grass; an 8-inch square flat plate with a cracked egg and an emerging baby duck; a 17x11-inch platter with a large bunny that has a pretty floral wreath around his neck, and a candlestick holder designed with little bunnies and grass. The products are not collectors' items since they're seasonal and change in design about every six months. They may be found in some kitchen boutique shops, Lawry's Gift Shop (Los Angeles), Knott's Berry Farm (Buena Park), Roger's Gardens (Corona del Mar) and the Peasantry chain. Prices range from about $8 to $49.

When You Cook With Steam

With steam cooking back in fashion, thanks to Oriental influence, another ceramic product of interest is the Ceramic Steam Cooker from Pottery By Levine (Richmond, Calif.). Functional as well as presentable for table service, it's great for steaming vegetables, fish, hot potato salads and warming fruit compotes.

The vessel has steam vents along the center cone to ensure even distribution of steam from top to bottom of contents. To steam, the covered pot with the food is placed on top of any six- or eight-inch saucepan filled with a small amount of boiling liquid or broth. The unit steams food quickly and evenly, but the main attraction is to be able to serve the dish right from the heat to the table.

The Ceramic Steam Cooker shown here comes in blue confetti pattern. Other patterns are chicken, musical notes, shells and French kitchen. Like the L.A. Ceramics line, the cost of this product may sound prohibitive to some cooks. However, the fact that all pieces are handmade and safety-glazed explains the cost. The handmade cooker is available at some specialty kitchen shops for about $34.

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