This Cannon Beach craftsman
carries his inspiration to
the dinner table.
Story and Photos by Margaret D. Smith
SOME ARTISTS’ SHOPS on the Oregon Coast last only as long as a summer wave. But since 1979 Jay Stewart has quietly divided his time between the studio where he throws pots and the shops where he and his wife Laura sell his wares. His current shop, House of the Potter, sits one block east of the main street through Cannon Beach.
Stewart features Italian-inspired pottery: lovely, rustic, safe to cook with, and reasonably priced. Besides his dinnerware, Stewart makes and sells handpainted tiles, raku vases, and custom pieces.
He calls the majority of his work "production pottery." The term refers to handmade plates, cups, bowls, and pitchers, but the expression has lost its luster in recent decades, he says. "A long time ago, I decided to follow the craftspeople of the Middle Ages and concentrate on this kind of pottery, not the kind that sits in a gallery untouched," Stewart explains. "When I'm choosing glazes for a plate, I ask myself, how will food look on it? I like it when customers come back to tell me they use the dinnerware every night."
House of the Potter also offers works by other local artists as well as a selection of books and gifts. Special orders are welcome. Mugs and soup bowls sell for $10 to $16; plates and pitchers range from $18 to $38. "I want everyday people, like me, to be able to afford handmade dinnerware," Stewart says.