While tripping down the snowy streets of downtown St. John’s,
it is a delight to seek refuge in the small, pottery studio of Alexis Templeton:
a master potter and internationally recognized artisan … and chocolate connoisseur.
Templeton has been developing her craft for over 20 years, and continues to be inspired
by both the creative and the technical challenges of making beautiful, functional pieces in clay.
“I enjoy throwing a form, and am fascinated by the alchemy of glazing,” she says.
“But it’s important for me to create pieces I know people will use and enjoy every day.”
Her creative ardor is evident as Templeton shares the process of creating one of her pieces.
From the rolling of the clay, to the chemical balance of creating her own signature crystalline glazes,
you hear an intimate appreciation for every step of the process.
Yet, as people pop in and out of the studio, it is not just the spectacular pottery that is on
the customers’minds. Tucked in the back, left-hand side of the studio is a section dedicated
entirely to another of Templeton’s passions, small batch artisan chocolate, or as it is also known,
“Bean-to-bar chocolate involves small artisan chocolate makers that either import the cocoa beans
directly from a farmer, or from a farmer’s co-op which is a step better than fair trade.
Some of the ones I carry are even tree-to-bar, which means they start right from the
picking of the cocoa beans.”
Her exploration of fine chocolate developed as she found herself drawn to specialized chocolate shops
while on her travels. She began to experience chocolate beyond the mass-market varieties.
“That’s what I missed here, having access to the great chocolates. So I sourced my own,
and now I have it all here at my fingertips. I call it my chocolate hobby. The craft is the profession.
The chocolate is the hobby,” she laughs.
To hear Alexis talk about the variety of chocolate she carries in her studio certainly excites an interest
in learning more about the complex process of chocolate making. From the intricacies of the
roasting process to the length of the conching process that determines the flavour,
conversations around chocolate are reminiscent of those around coffee and wine
and apparently with good reason.
“The language is the same with chocolate as it is with wine,” shares Templeton.
“You can talk about terroir and the variety of the bean just as an example.
The beans in each region will taste different even if they are from the same country.”
It is for this reason that Templeton has partnered with wine aficionado,
Tom Beckett to host a chocolate and dessert wine pairing on Friday, February 13th
in the Tasting Room at Howley Estates NLC.
While Templeton carries an ever-changing selection of bean-to-bar chocolate in her studio,
for the more adventurous chocolate lovers, she also organizes an online chocolate club.
Eight times a year, club members can order from a diverse sampling of bean-to-bar chocolate
selected by Templeton herself.
Yet, chocolate is not the only thing on Templeton’s mind throughout these cold, winter months.
“I do two international, invitational pop up gallery shows every year; the Feast of Pottery
on Thanksgiving weekend and the March of Mugs on the first weekend of March,” Alexis explains.
Over the course of the next two months, Alexis will make close to 200 hundred mugs,
and will receive another 200 mugs from invited, international artisans.
All of the mugs will be showcased and sold March 6-7. “People love mugs,” stresses Templeton.
“Even if you’re not a pottery collector, you like a nice comfortable mug.”
There is certainly a connection between the complex process in the creation of both
chocolate and pottery which both end in a product that is accessible and comforting.
“It’s true,” laughs Templeton. “Mugs are particularly warming in the winter and so is chocolate.”
So, if you are looking to wow your significant other with gifts of comfort and joy
or if you are simply looking for gorgeous pottery or to sample some of the exciting world
of bean-to-bar chocolate, look no further, the Alexis Templeton Studio has everything you will need.
Article By Erin Power