Nayab Bolbolan, daughter of the owner of High Touch boutique, 1551 Sherman Ave. Credit: Susy Schultz

If you are thinking that a boutique is all about clothing and fashion, think again.

At the recently opened High Touch boutique, 1551 Sherman Ave., you won’t be going into a dressing room. Instead, you will find elegant Middle Eastern and Persian ceramics, home decor, statues and metal crafts, which will make any home look fashionable.

“Everything is handmade,” said Nayab Bolbolan, who was minding the store when the RoundTable stopped in. She is the daughter of the store’s owner, Naheed Bolbolan.

The materials used are also promoted as “organic and environmentally friendly.”

The colorful ceramics fill the shop with a whimsical beauty and brightness that makes it is a pleasure to be there. The pieces range in size from tiny vases and pots to two six-foot tall royal blue pots standing as if very serious sentries against the brick wall as you walk in the door.

In between those grand and graceful tiny-handled pots are several sets of glass shelves holding a sampling of the various types of ceramics offered in the shop, such as minakari, a form of painting and coloring the pots with enamel that leaves raised bumps, as if it were a curving canvases on a three-dimensional pointallism painting.

There are also pots, bowls, vases and tea sets made from gourds, metal and fascinating sand-colored and painted ceramic earthen ware made via an ancient process called sialk – a process that dates back to the ninth and tenth centuries.

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Yet, none of it is imported as this is a full family operation. The Bolbolans and their extended family – aunts, uncles and cousins – make the pottery in a large production studio in a rural area about 90 minutes south of the Chicago area, Nayab said. “We price our pieces as per the hours it takes to make them.”

Store prices range from $10 to $5,000, with many pieces available under $100 and $200. (There are also a few ponchos and scarves if you love beautiful fabrics as well as a selection of jewelry worth browsing.)

The last two days, the kick-off of the official holiday shopping season, went well, Nayab said. “Friday was slow. But today was perfect. It was very nice. People were coming in and out and the weather was perfect.

“I think there were about 45 people who came inside the shop the two days and 10 to 15 people bought, others took pictures and a lot of people measured stuff.” She said this level of activity bodes well for the rest of the season.

The small website for the Evanston store describes the shop as combining “simple, functional design with quality materials (including ceramic and metal) to create strikingly modern objects that are as practical as they are beautiful.”

This is not the first store for the Bolbolan family. They also own High Touch Spa and Boutique, 1187 Wilmette Ave, Wilmette, where they sell pottery but also provide spa services.

High Touch took over the store occupied briefly by Evanston’s First Zero-Waste General Store, which closed May 29.

Susy Schultz

Susy Schultz is the editor of the Evanston Roundtable. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and is the former president of Public Narrative, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching journalists and...

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