The Marin Connection to Crow Canyon Home Will Make You Love This Enamelware Brand Even More

Courtesy of Crow Canyon Home

When we think of enamelware today, cheerful scenes of picnics and crab boils come to mind as well as tumblers full of icy lemonade and corn-laden platters. But enamelware was actually invented in the 1700s in Germany as a coating for iron cookware to eliminate rust and metal flavors in food. That methodology arrived in the United States in the mid-1800s and by late that century two European migrant-founded companies had begun to offer more decorative, creative enamelware in America.

One hundred years later, our very own Marin-based Crow Canyon Home was born. In 1977, this family-owned company (formerly known as CGS International) came up with the classic splatter pattern on enamelware known as splatterware, a modern take on the popular midcentury French enamelware swirl pattern. Since then, Crow Canyon has bloomed into an international brand, ubiquitous to the genre of enamelware and devoted to zero-waste, ethical and safe hand-making practices.

In 2012, Cara Barde took the reins as owner and CEO, leading the company to where it is today. “I was interested in owning my own small business and loved that it offered an opportunity to evolve a heritage brand and bring it into the modern era for a new generation,” she reflects. “There’s a strong connection between family, community and planet with this product and I wanted to build on that.”

Barde’s focus has mostly been on marketing, international expansion and growing the company’s wholesale partnerships, as well as adding direct-to-consumer sales and improving the design element through partnerships and collaborations. That includes a long list of retailers such as Merci in Paris, Labour & Wait in London, and Goop, West Elm, Williams Sonoma and Anthropologie in the States. Barde adds that there have also been many fun “design collabs with buzzy brands like Jenni Kayne, Soho House, Camp Wandawega, Poketo, The Get Out, Pendleton, Filson, Fishs Eddy, Urban Outfitters, and fine artists Lisa Congdon and Claudia Pearson.”

When asked about the design methods and artistry of how the pieces are made, Barde explains that they are two very different processes. “The design process is different with each collection. ‘Catalina,’ for example, was inspired by terrazzo, which had a strong resurgence in 2019. I thought it would be cool to do a terrazzo pattern with colors and splatter, so I developed it,” she says. “We used color palettes that were in style and that we thought would appeal to a broad audience based on broader home industry trends.”

As for how the enamelware is actually made, Barde says that each handmade piece starts with a steel base that is then dipped in multiple coats of porcelain. It is then fired in a kiln before the color is applied by hand. “Each piece is different; no two pieces are the same,” she says. “It is important to note that our designs are not paint, which is not food safe nor oven or dishwasher safe. Ours are decals that are fused into porcelain, so it is completely nontoxic and food safe and can be used in the oven and dishwasher.”

The wide spectrum of colorful designs and timeless appeal that Crow Canyon pieces offer have attracted the attention of the restaurant industry at large as well, which obviously includes some of our favorite local spots. You have likely eaten off of a Crow Canyon plate at Mas Masa in Fairfax, M.H. Bread and Butter in San Anselmo, PizzaHacker in Mill Valley and out at Dillon Beach Resort. And a longtime devotee, Souvla, has been working with Crow Canyon since 2014.

But home is where the heart is, which is why the word “Home” is included in the Crow Canyon name. The ease of grabbing a stack of enamelware plates, bowls or cups for your backyard barbecue, not to mention as a way to help eliminate paper and plastic waste, is second only to the exciting aesthetic these pieces can, literally, bring to the table.

Barde says, “One of my proudest accomplishments is that there is a new generation of customers who value beautiful functional design and love to gather and entertain with Crow Canyon Home enamelware.”

a Crow Canyon Home splattered enamelware baking dish
Courtesy of Crow Canyon Home