Most of the hedgehogs you meet nowadays are of Scots-Irish descent, and the makers of Darn Pottery can easily trace their ancestry all the way back to Laird Darnit O’Shane McKenzie, the notorious pirate, raconteur, and illustrator of children’s books. Darnit started Darn Pottery in 1674 after a certain incident involving Ponce DeLeon required his temporary but immediate removal from the high seas and public life.
Returning to his hide-out in the Cherokee lands of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he dug up some of his buried treasure and set out to make a better jug, a matter that had been vexing him for years. Using all the alchemy training at his disposal, Darnit eventually succeeded in making a perfectly leak-proof jug that carried not only moonshine, but also secret revolutionary messages right under the noses of the British – thus eventually helping the colonists throw off the yoke of empire.
But that’s a long story and you’ll just have to buy the book.
Be that as it may, demand for these jugs grew so much that Darnit eventually had to quit piracy altogether to focus on supplying quality crockery to the entire Eastern seaboard. Also, at this point he and his partner had 17 children, 253 grandchildren, and countless niblets and it just seemed like the right time to settle down.
During the early years, the Darnit family owned the means of production, answered to no-one, and made an average of 76 perfect pots per year. That is, until the interwebs.
Throughout the ensuing centuries, Darn Pottery stood steadfast and true to its traditions, even in the face of ever-encroaching progress. Neither the French and Indian wars, nor the Industrial Revolution, nor even the moon landing could sway the fussy hedgehogs from their dedication to artisanal, small-batch pottery, painstaking illustrations, and reliable delivery by donkey or other similar means.
And then demand for artisanal small batch things made by hedgehogs virtually exploded. Acquisitive city dwellers descended on the peaceful homesteads of the artisans, demanding more and more handmade pottery. Something had to be done – if only to curb traffic.
After consulting with their elders, the younger, hipper hedgehogs put out a help-wanted ad soliciting a mid-sized human to help with the talking, shipping, plumbing and assorted sciences. The position of Assistant to the Branch Manager eventually went to one Luba Sharapan, who qualified on the basis of her dazzling personality and possession of two perfectly opposable thumbs. She currently takes dictation, lifts heavy boxes, types shipping labels, presses buttons, and has recently been promoted to photographer.
The hedgehogs are in charge of every step of creating our handmade pots while the human, canine, and feline assistants stand by to lend a paw or an opposable thumb whenever necessary.
Fresh clay is wedged by the light of the first full moon. It is brought outdoors, a ceremonial dram of the finest whiskey is poured upon it, and then dozens of hedgehogs dance wildly upon the mound of clay until it becomes soft and pliable. It is then ceremoniously divided and stored in secret locations until it is needed.
To make the individual pieces, the clay is formed either by ancient handbuilding techniques or by the master potter on the throwing wheel. Hedgehogs’ pottery wheels, like their bicycles, are powered by blackbirds who, in exchange for snacks and adoration, cause the wheel to spin at magical speeds. The clay is simply powerless to resist the Newtonian forces instilled upon it by the wheel and the hedgehogs’ little prodding paws. Mugs, bowls, vases and a myriad of forms are thus created, dried, and then fired in kilns powered by the sun and tiny firebreathing dragons.
Afterwards, a bespectacled crew of illustrators can be seen working by candle light, using their own hedgehog quills and rare squid ink to illustrate each of the pieces with ninja-like precision. Details of daily life, special events, and likenesses of dear friends are incorporated into each drawing. Please Note – no squids are ever harmed in the production of the ink. They gladly exchange their extra ink cartridges for homemade French Onion soup which the hedgehogs are famous for inventing.
When not working, the hedgehogs eat locally-sourced grubs and play tiny organic mandolins.