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Frankoma dish exhibit brings back memories

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of art is having an exhibit of Frankoma dishware.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: May 30, 2012

I can't say exactly when my fascination with dishes began, but certainly it was nurtured in my grandmother's kitchen. Her large sunny kitchen was a dish lover's paradise. A wall of windows across the south shed brilliant light into the white room. The cabinets had those pretty glass knobs that looked like giant crystal beads. My curiosity centered on a wall with large sliding doors opening to stacks of dishes, glassware and her growing collection of salt and pepper shakers.

I was hooked. I could occasionally talk her out of something from the vast collection: A lonely pepper shaker missing its mate for salt, a tiny vase, a little green glass but never one of the dishes shaped like apples. I'm not sure anyone is ever cured of dish collecting until storage becomes an issue.

At grandmother Della's home, her china cabinet was the center of my attention. Its dark wood with glass on three sides held countless treasures. I thought that cabinet to be the most beautiful piece of furniture in the world.

Today that cabinet graces our dining room with far more than the dishes it holds. The memories of good times, great food and family come alive from that splendid old china cabinet and all the dishes it has held since it was purchased over 90 years ago.

It's easy to see why I couldn't resist heading to Norman to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to see the special exhibit of Frankoma Pottery. I was fascinated by the use of Oklahoma clay in the production of these unique designs. The clay came from both the Ada and Sapulpa areas. Frankoma Pottery itself has plenty of stories behind the dishes produced from its kilns over the years.

John Frank came to Oklahoma in 1927 as professor of ceramics after his graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago. After developing the pottery program at the University of Oklahoma, Frank resigned in 1936 to devote his full energy to developing a pottery business. It started as a home studio project called Frank Potteries. Frank's wife coined the name “Frankoma” using Frank's name fused with part of Oklahoma.

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