I went out for a dog walk with a friend today near the Bay and wandered over to the place where there are pottery shards strewn all through the rocks. I have collected there since I started doing mosaics a couple of years ago. They are from TEPCO pottery which supplied durable dinnerware to many restaurants all over the country during its heyday in the 40s and 50s. They were known for their western theme designs and the dishes are now pretty collectible. Last year I happened upon a TEPCO retrospective exhibit in Richmond. I had just used many shards for a mosaic I was making for a community garden/art space, so I was excited to see a whole plate or pitcher. Going in, I met the grandson of the Italian potter who started the company. He wanted to make sure I knew that the pottery was dumped in the bay because the city was looking for “clean fill” and I remembered that until a bunch of grandmothers founded Save The Bay in the 70s, the plan was to keep filling in the bay and building on it.
I’ve seen pictures of how the beach looked in 1982, where the broken pottery was many feet deep up and down maybe a quarter mile of coastline. Its picked pretty clean these days but the tide was low and I found this cowboy piece right off, but nothing else with a design so intact.
Erin, who has a beautiful, eclectic, cottage garden, wanted to gather pieces to use as a colorful mulch. She was excited about cup handles – and everything else. She filled up 2 big bags before we made ourselves stop and lug the bags, splitting from the weight, back up the breakwater and all the way back to the car, stopping every few steps to laugh at ourselves and then go back to retrieve the precious chunk of old pottery that had fallen out.