Tomie dePaola Pot Collector

Yes, that Tomie dePaola, the well-known illustrator and author of children’s books. I love his books. Strega Nona enchants me. Big Anthony makes me chuckle. The blues and yellows and pinks and reds and oranges of Tomie’s art make me happy.

So, I was thrilled to be invited to the celebration at his house yesterday –yes, really, his house — in New Hampshire. The cause for celebration was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for Lifetime Achievement that he recently received. And to add frosting to the happiness,  the Meriden Public Library named their children’s room for him. Much to be joyous about.

There were, I think about two-dozen guests, maybe a few more. I had my camera with me, but thought it might be gauche to attend a party in someone’s house and start taking pictures. Whom am I kidding? It is most certainly gauche. But one by one, other guests took out their cameras, and so, unable to restrain myself, I did too.

The house is surrounded by lush gardens planted with old -fashioned flowers such as black-eyed susans, daisies, catmint, hydrangeas, coneflowers, and false indigo. There’s a stone terrace, brick courtyard, decks, a borrowed view of a cornfield beyond a split rail fence, a small orchard, and numerous borders and island beds. I wandered, taking shots in the photographically too bright sun, dreaming of revamping my own gardens as soon as I got back to Connecticut.

The house itself is filled with folk art. Everywhere you look, there is something to see, all in carefully staged vignettes. And there are pots. Lots of pots. They are tucked here and there, lined up on the floor close to the wall, in the kitchen, on ledges and shelves, in cupboards, on tables. So, needless to say, I took photos of the pots. I hope I didn’t seem too pot obsessive, but I probably did.  When I took a shot of the empty flowerpots outside, one guest gave me a “she’s peculiar” sort of glance and nodded knowingly to another guest.

My favorite piece was the early American red ware platter. The edges are somewhat chipped but otherwise it is in great condition.

Here are a few more pots from around Tomie’s house.

Upon seeing his fine collection, I felt a little foolish that I had brought him one of my own spoon jars but it was too late. It was wrapped in a fancy bag with tissue paper and sat on the bench in the entry with all the other presents. There was no way to retrieve it without being noticed.

Tomie’s new book, due out in September, is Strega Nona’s Gift about a holiday feast in Italy. I am sure there will be pots in the book. There were some nice bowls in Strega Nona’s Harvest. Hey, maybe Strega Nona could visit an Italian potter in her next book? You know, someone to make some dishes for her, or maybe some flowerpots for her garden.

Note: Tomie will be at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair in November.

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