Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Day In The Life - Pottery Planet

When one of my projects requires pottery, there's no doubt as to where I go: Pottery Planet in Santa Cruz. The beautiful drive to the coast is always a treat, especially when I take Old San Jose Road, my favorite back way over the Santa Cruz mountains. Having it all to myself on a sunny summer day is pure nature+driving therapy.

Located on bustling Soquel Avenue, Pottery Planet is a delightful oasis. They import hand-made pottery directly from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Greece and Italy. I have never failed to find exactly what I need there (and it is often something completely different than what I THOUGHT I needed!)

The secret to their success, I believe, is in the diversity of their product. Other pottery suppliers buy their inventory through brokers by the container load. Pottery Planet founders Polly Joseph and Bob Goode chose instead to travel directly to the source, visiting smaller kilns in more remote locations, sometimes purchasing all of their production.

I hadn't visited for a couple of months, and when I walked in last week, I stopped in my tracks. The indoor showroom was gorgeous! Same layout as always, but something was different. Things were lighter, brighter, and the displays were impeccable.

The outdoor yard looked just as great. What was going on? It turns out that Polly and Bob had sold their Santa Cruz store to one of their importers, who are Swedish. They are obviously doing a good job breathing new life into the place, without losing any of its charm.

Northern California designers, take note: one of Pottery Planet's specialities is helping their customers turn pots into fountains. Almost any glazed pot can be made into a water feature; they supply pumps, hoses, fittings and several sizes and shapes of underground basins, and will help with design and assembly.

Pottery shopping for a project can be tricky. For one thing, I can only shop for one client at a time. I arrive with an idea of size and quantity, and maybe some preference for color and shape. I do at least two laps of the place, paying attention to what catches my eye. Only then do ideas and options start coming into focus.

Round or square? Tall or short? Classic or modern? Bright or neutral? Shiny or rustic? Ornate or minimal? The choices are endless!

So here's what I came up with last week. My initial thought had been square and brown, because of the bright color of the Craftsman style house. Then this fellow caught my eye: I'd never seen this quilted diamond pattern before, and the rich pewter color is unexpectedly perfect. Client was thrilled. AND it was on sale!

Thanks for joining me on my pottery jaunt! Next up, my day continues with visits to the growing grounds of a large commercial producer of plugs and liners (starter plants sold to wholesale growers) and one of my favorite wholesale nurseries.


  1. Cool beans--never been there before... marking it down on the to-do list. We go to Sun Studios on Highway 92 sometimes.

  2. That's a beautiful container! And I'll attest that the only thing better than PP's selection is your own ability to find just the right "specimen pot" among its treasures.

  3. Biiiiig nostalgia for the Planet, spent many hours (not to mention dollars) there. And it does look different and lighter. Love the pot you got--like an upside-down pinecone.

  4. Miss Kitty! Welcome! And exactly, like one of those little pinecone bells. xoxo

    @John, thank you my friend; our tall, blue masterpiece was sure a good example of that...

    @chuck, ohhh yes, you must make a pilgrimage. I could map you a whole itinerary (need a guide?)

  5. It's a testament to the engaging quality of your pottery post that I read it in its entirety in my reader before I realized what I had done. I wish we had more affordable options for frost proof pottery here in the NE where one of the chores of bedding down a garden involves dragging all of the pots and non-frost proof accessories inside...

  6. @Susan Thanks for the kind words, engaging is good! And oh my, I'd be in sooo much trouble if I had to bring my pots in during winter! Now I'm going to go read YOUR engaging post on Terrain!

  7. I'm distraught that you didn't throw me in the trunk before embarking!

  8. Plantanista (Maureen D)August 3, 2009 at 7:48 PM

    Ahhhh.... Pottttteryyyyyyy Plaaaaaaaaaanettttttttt...

    I miss you so, PP! I need to arrange an overnight to allow for a nice visit!

    Great Post, Laura! I love your travel chronicles.

    Interleafer on the road=great material!

  9. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful resource. And the drive there on that beautiful back road looks delicious. I'd love to go on that trip!

    I love pots in the garden, and anything in containers. But as Susan says, we gardeners have the annoying problem of freezing in winter, which spells death to pottery. And the plants in them of course. Forget about a fountain! I drag things indoors to a porch where I overwinter things, but I have run out of room.

    I think that's the thing that I envy most about warm weather gardens, the ability to plant in pots and overwinter. Saw this last summer in South England and Wales, where they can also do this. Sigh.