The cool, sleek, understated elegance of hand lathed slate makes a gorgeous centerpiece—and an impressive gift that will last forever.
In the village of Pontyclun in the South Wales Valleys, Neil Walker fashions these small, handsome bowls from local slate. Each one is cut, shaped and ground out by hand, then polished. It's clear that it's more a labor of love than a moneymaking enterprise; when I asked Neil how long it took to make one the answer was simply, "Too long."
Even though it's rare to have slate on your table—you'll usually find it underneath, as a floor, or above, as a roof tile—small, hand carved slate pieces aren't unknown in Wales. Quarrymen there carve slate to pass the time, like sailors do with scrimshaw or shepherds with whittling.
Each four-inch bowl gets a final buff of olive oil from Alison Lea-Wilson and her daughter at Halen Mon. We include a bit of Halen Mon's excellent Welsh sea salt as well as a silver spoon for serving.
Alison likes to say, "You always feel young with a slate bowl in the house." After all, the slate is three hundred million years old.
Very limited quantities. A bowl lasts a lifetime. Or several million.