Moulded from clay and measuring 9” tall by 5” wide, the new chalices for The Table, the 5:30 Saturday Eucharist, were fashioned after the formal silver chalices used on Sundays.

“These chalices and patens [plates on which the wafers sit] were commissioned specifically for
this service,” said Father Casey Shobe  at Transfiguration. “The artist visited our parish and experienced this community. From that, he crafted pieces that intentionally reflected the heart
of our church family.”

James Olney, master potter at Oak Cliff Pottery, expressed what influenced him while making these chalices and patens. “My motivation and inspiration to make these liturgical pieces was rooted in love and respect for individuality.

“I am very pleased with how these pieces came out. I love the organic nature of how the wood ash interacted with the surface. Art and specifically pottery, connects us to the earth and to the life and energies all around us,” Olney says. “Its creation relies on the basic elements of the world: Earth, water, air, and fire. The finished product and the ceremony of their use brings us together in community and faith.”

The pottery was specially commissioned by Diana Davis in memory of her mother LaVae Duffey Riddle, scholar, artist, nurturer and lover of all souls.

“After browsing through several sites, I came upon a reference to the ‘Oak Cliff Potter,’ which led me to James Olney’s website. After reading his bio, it felt like his life’s path was representative of the Fig parishioners with whom we have the privilege to worship and live out our mission of service to those in need.”

Always fascinated by the act of participating in Communion, Olney explains his belief that the Eucharist brings together people in a mysterious way. “We are all connected in many ways in this world and to worship together helps remind us that respect is the most important thing we can offer anyone.”

To see the pottery in use during the Eucharist on Saturdays is to witness an almost covert interaction between an effort of detailed craftsmanship and the holiness of the bread and wine which the vessels so delicately contain. Those who know the story of these clay-origin gifts and those who do not know their story both participate in the holy interaction between the joyful fruits of intentional craftsmanship and the Body and Blood of Christ.

This article was taken from the Winter issue of Illumine, a quarterly magazine from Transfiguration. You can read the full publication here.

About the Author

Judson Watkins is the Director of Communications at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. Previously he was the Communications Director at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and worked at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. Judson studied religion and communications at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas. He was born and raised in East Texas, where he gained an appreciation for all things outdoors. Click here to contact Judson.