Disco Gourds

When Bethan Laura Wood was invited to make a collection for 1882 Ltd., Bethan drew on the ceramic history of trompe-l’œil decoration used for food vessels. Highly popularised in the 18th century – inspired by the increasing exchange of foods across the globe and the aspiration for ‘enlightenment’ through scientific exploration and cataloguing of nature – the trend for theatrical dining merged into a wonderous world of creating hyper realistic ceramic replicas of fruits and vegetables. Some vessels even replicated the shapes of whole animals, used to often house contrasting food inside. 

Bethan has mixed this with the abstraction and optimism of 1960’s party foods, including the mainstay staple of bite-sized cubes of pineapple, cheese and melon skewered by sticks and arranged in an explosive array – otherwise more glamorously known as caleidoscopio di stuzzichini in Italian – which reflected the decade’s fascination for Sputnik shapes inspired by the space race. 

Bethan’s design for the Disco Gourds vessels has stylised and flattened these perforations to create a second layer of pattern and decoration. Using a technique called slip lining – where each of the pattern’s raised lines are outlined and then colour filled by the skilful hands of 1882 Ltd.’s craftswomen – the effect is that of stained glass, bringing Bethan’s fantasy gourds full circle with a nod to the medieval stained-glass windows she finds in her hometown which she visits on her travels to Stoke-on-Trent, where 1882 Ltd. is based.