After retiring from a 30-year career as a physical therapist, Monika Dalkin found herself with time to fill and a creative itch to scratch. “I had an opportunity to go back to school because my husband was teaching at a university,” she explains. “I decided to take art classes because it’s something that I’ve always had an interest in.” She turned out not just to be a model student but also a crazy ambitious one—and within a few years, Monika walked away with an undergrad degree in printmaking and ceramics and eventually a masters degree in fine arts.
The idea for Fifty One and a Half began when, you guessed it, Monika turned that exact age, and her daughter Gaby requested original ceramics to feature on her super popular food blog, What’s Gaby Cooking. “Gaby was looking for unique pieces to showcase her recipes and suggested that I make some tableware. I created the pieces, she gave me a few shoutouts, and the shop grew from there!” she says. Launched in 2011, Monika’s collection of stoneware is decorated with floral patterns inspired by the garden behind her home in Seattle, is twice-fired for a glassy glaze and extra-durable texture, and celebrates the joy that comes with starting from scratch.