What Is So Special About Handmade Pottery?

 

Lately there is a trend towards handmade pottery.

An increasing number of people search for warm & characterful ceramic centerpieces, handcrafted by talented potters.

But why do people like handcrafted ceramics?

Why do they spend their precious time searching for that special piece?

And after all, what is so special about handcrafted ceramics?

Handmade-Ceramic-Jugs

Handmade Ceramic Jugs by Urban Folk.

 

Being a fun of handmade pottery myself I researched to find out what is so special about it. And there are several good reasons why.

Read this blog and you will find out:

  • Great many are interested in (who and how are they interested?)
  • What is so special about Handmade Pottery (reasons & examples)
  • The future of Handmade Pottery (personal opinion. You are welcomed to comment)

 

 

GREAT MANY ARE TALKING ABOUT HANDMADE POTTERY

Great many are talking about / searching for / decorating their homes with / using / creating handcrafted ceramics.

Magazines & Newspapers are featuring relevant articles.

The well-established Country Living magazine often features articles about ceramic artists accompanied with beautiful images of their creations & workrooms.

A-potters-passion

Image from Country Livnig Article “A Potter’s Passion”

 

The NY times features a relevant article about Why handmade ceramics are white hot.

Interior designers, like the always imaginative Kelly Weastler, are searching for ceramics to offer their clients the best.

Restaurants exchange their old tableware to handmade ceramic ones in their attempt to offer a holistic eating experience to their clients, as described in Bonappetit.

Bloggers & opinion leaders are showcasing their homes decorated with characterful ceramics like Igor Josif from happy interior blog.

Famous marketplaces like Etsy and Houzz are featuring ceramics where you can directly buy from.

Moreover On Houzz you can explore images of stunning homes with pottery centerpieces. Very often the room of the week in Houzz is decorated with beautiful ceramics.

 

Follow-Urban-Folk-On-Houzz

 

Social media is full of pottery images too. On instagram #ceramics has more than 1.900.000 mentions and if you search the word ceramics on Pinterest, too many images & boards appear.

 

Urban Folk on Pinterest

 

Well established shops like Not On The High Street are offering ceramics. New e-shops like Urban Folk …it’s us 🙂 … are popping up selling handpicked handcrafted ceramics from Aegean potters.

 

This increasing interest in handmade pottery pieces resulted to an increase in the number of potters:

Many old potters expand their business like Emerson Creek who grew from one wheel to many artists place.

In the meantime new pottery artists emerge. A good example of a new potter is Emily Reinhardt who enthusiastically creates and sells through the internet.

And more every day are learning the art of pottery:

MFA ceramic classes are offered. There is even a ranking list with the top 12 that offer exquisite quality.

And for those having a day job and wanting to learn pottery, evening pottery classes are offered. Just google “best ceramic classes” and “your area” and you will find a list of them.

We-Are-Experiencing-A-Pottery-Boom

 

 

WHO ARE THESE GREAT MANY INTERESTED IN HANDMADE CERAMICS?

Judging from Urban Folk clients, I can tell they are all interior design enthusiasts. And in particular:

  • Collectors who are searching for unique artisan pieces and in general those interested in unique & small batch pieces.
  • World travelers with a keen ethnic eye.
  • Lovers of traditional style.
  • Interior design lovers who are in mix & match, eclectic & country style.
  • And last but not least, the new-bohemians: young people, enthusiastic about bohemian- ethnic colorful vibes.

 

 

SO WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT HANDMADE POTTERY

Handmade Pottery is Unique

 

– HANDMADE POTTERY IS UNIQUE

There is no consistency in handcrafted pottery. And that’s exactly what we LOVE.

Wherever the human factor is involved, there is no exact same piece.

Even if the potter tries to create the same piece, there will always be differentiations on the shape, glaze and pattern.

This is what makes each piece special.

…And, us feeling more special when owning a unique piece 🙂

Pottery-mugs

Unique Pottery Mugs by The Potter’s Shop

 

– HANDMADE POTTERY PIECES ARE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT, WHEN CREATED BY GOOD CRAFTSMEN

Each handmade pottery piece is perfectly imperfect.

For example, it might be slightly thinner on some parts, it can be not perfectly symmetric, it might not be perfectly round, it might have a thicker glaze on some parts, etc.

All these, when come from a good potter, add a special charm.

Additionally they showcase the handmade aspect, as opposed to the characterless machine perfect pottery.

And those searching for handmade ceramics, consider them as welcomed characteristics.

This perfect imperfection is finely described in ID article “Finding the Imperfect Perfect”, together with the below image.

Imperfectly Perfect Ceramics

 

– HANDMADE POTTERY IS CREATED WITH LOVE & CARE

Most of the products around us are machine made & mass produced, lacking the personal touch and character.

When it comes to handmade pottery, potters work on the material until the final outcome satisfies them.

And this love and care is evident on the outcome.

Wheel-Thrown-Ceramics

Love and care while wheel-throwing as shown on Enet.

 

– HANDMADE POTTERY IS CHARACTERFUL, LIKE THEIR POTTER

Potters are both craftsmen and artists.

Each handmade ceramic therefore showcases the potter’s skill, style, creativity, personality & personal touch.

And adds character & style to every place.

Nikos-Lebesis-Pottery

Miss Bloom has traveled to the Greek Island Sifnos and met Nikos, the potter featured on the above image.

Who is Nikos?

Nikos is the forth generation potter of the famous potter family Lebessis, and one of the best potters in Greece. He is very proud of his family’s history and pottery. Since he was a young boy, he was taught the craftsmanship from his father. His red clay creations are very high quality, have chic & tasteful dimensions and are thin & delicate.

We have met Nikos too and feel thankful for our amazing co-operation and his masterpieces that are worldwide available through Urban Folk.

If you wish a piece of Nikos pottery for your home, you may explore his Aegean Blue & White Pottery (made by Nikos and hand-painted by his grandmother) and his latest Aegean Pottery with a Mediterranean Flair (made by Nikos and hand-painted by his wife and brother).

* Warning: You will have a hard time to select which of his pottery pieces you like most! 

 

– SUPPORT GOOD POTTERS & SMALL BUSINESSES

When you buy a handmade pottery piece, you reward the potter for his/her effort & results. This makes them feel acknowledged and gives them strength to create more.

According to Pamela Sherry “When I buy handmade I am buying more than a product. I am supporting an artist who has put care, creativity and love into the product.”

And you financially support their small businesses by either buying directly from the potter or from small businesses that offer handmade pieces.

 

– PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN FAIR TRADE AND IN THE STORY BEHIND EACH PIECE

Knowing the story behind the potter, both adds sentimental value to the product and helps us avoid non-ethically made products.

Unfortunately nowadays there are many things produced by those who work hard and under pressure in harmful environments and earn very little money.

There is an increasing trend towards people interested in buying fair trade and ethically made products.

Handmade pottery is a great option  for those buyers.

Moreover, there is a trend towards learning the story behind the product:

Where is this piece made?

Who is the potter?

What is his / her story?

If it is a traditional product, what is the tradition of this area?

This adds sentimental value to his/her creation. And whenever we use our pottery piece, what we experience goes beyond the material and shape of the product.

Lebesis-Pottery-by-Kera-Kate

Image courtesy of Yria Ceramics who has traveled and met Kera Kate.

 

Everybody wants a pottery piece hand painted by Kera Kate! She is a natural talent.

She has married a potter from Lebessis family and since then, she has been hand painting first her husband’s pottery, then her son’s and now her grandson’s!

She is 80+ years old, has children, grand children and grand-grand children and continues to draw with the same love and enthusiasm.

Here you may purchase a pottery piece hand painted by Kera Kate.

 

– THERE IS GREAT VARIETY OF POTTERY, THANKS TO THE MANY SHAPES, TEXTURES & PATTERNS

Clay is a material that can be shaped in various forms. Like for example these traditional handmade candle-holders.

Sifnos Pottery

Image: Zapheiras-Photos 

 

And when it comes to the hand painted ones, there are many patterns based on the area, period, the artisan’s taste & skills, his/her historic knowledge.

Have a look at the below Greek folk art hand painted ceramic plate.

Hand Painted Greek Folk Art Plate

 

– HANDMADE POTTERY IS COZY BECAUSE CLAY IS A WARM & NATURAL MATERIAL

Pottery creations add a warm touch, thanks to the material they are made of.

As opposed for example to Plexiglas (sorry Plexiglas lovers), clay is a warm & natural material and these two characteristics pass on to the products.

And we all want our home to feel cozy & welcoming.

Pottery-is-Collaboration-of-Nature-And-Artisan

 

– THERE IS GREAT VARIETY OF POTTERY, THANKS TO THE MANY TECHNICAL VARIATIONS IN THE MAKING OF

Many factors contribute to the final result of each piece (type of clay, how the shape is made, the way it is fired, type & color or Glaze).

If you put all these factors together, you have a unique combination and therefore a unique piece!

 

TYPE OF CLAY

There is one word for the raw material and it is called clay.

But there are innumerable types of clay that play a great role in the end result.

According to Erik Painter who is a potter & a pottery teacher,”Clay is created by the chemical weathering and geothermal alteration of igneous rocks into hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates. Most often the precursor rock is a type of granite”.

Additionally, each potter (or clay supplier) creates his /her own mix.

Just imagine therefore how many different types of clay exist, based on the area, the ingredients of the rocks and the way each rock is altered and the personal mix!

A general way to categorize the clay is based on the fire density.

According to Clay Times, pottery is therefore categorized into “earthenware”, “stoneware” or “porcelain”.

 

VARIETY ON WAY THE FORM IS GIVEN TO THE CLAY

Clay is a material that can be formed in various shapes, based on the way the shape is created (wheel-thrown, hand builded, mold) and the potter’s skills.

There are three ways to create the shape, each with its own characteristics.

WHEEL-THROWN

Clay is placed on a turning wheel. Based on both the experience and the craftsman’s skills, each piece is unique.

A very distinguished characteristic of the wheel thrown pottery pieces is the lines created while wheel-throwing.

Wheel-Thrown-Pottery

Image: Ceramic Arts Daily

 

HAND BUILDING

It is like sculpture. The shape is formed entirely by hands.

Handbuild-Clay

Image: Lakeside Pottery

 

MOLD

A prototype is created (for the creation of the prototype the potter’s skills are needed). Out of this prototype, the mold is made.

And then clay is placed in the mold & pressed.

All ceramic pieces shaped in the same mold, are the same.

Pottery-molds

Part of the molds collection at Ashley’s Finds 

 

TYPE OF KILN

The result is different when pieces are fired in a wooden kiln, than those fired in an electric or gas kiln. There is a very informative article on their differences in juxtaform.

Wood kiln is the most rare and special one where the potter’s experience is required.

Potters don’t know the exact result because each batch is different.

Even pieces in the same kiln may have different colors, based on where in the kiln they are placed, the kiln temperature & the time!

Fire-Kiln-Pottery-and-Electrical-Kiln-Pottery

This image from Villa Kinthia site, is a great example of the differences between the wood and electric kiln pottery, all made by the same potter in his various kilns:

The less reddish pottery on the table and the shelves are fired in wood kilns. The hue of each piece varies slightly from one another.

The more reddish pieces are fired in an electrical kiln. This type of kilns is what most potters are using nowadays. The end result of each piece with regards to the hue is similar per batch and less broken pieces occur during the firing.

 

TYPE & COLOR OF GLAZE

Apart from the different types of glaze, color is mixed with the glaze and therefore more glaze combinations are available.

Glazed-Ceramics

The above image features different glazes based on the hues and is from an article from Heath pottery, where the variety of their glazes is described.

 

SMALL BATCH DUE TO THE LIMITED KILN SPACE

Owning a small batch pottery piece is more valuable than owning a mass produced one.

All pieces that are placed in one kiln and fired together are considered a batch.

And because the space in the kiln is limited, only a few pieces are fired each time. And therefore each batch is small.

Additionally, some pieces might break in the kiln. And this makes the batch even smaller.

Pottery-fired-in-electric-kiln

Wittenberg University uploaded an image of a loaded kiln that shows how much space a Kiln has and how many pieces can be fired each time.

 

 

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF HANDMADE POTTERY?

My personal opinion is that for all the above reasons, the handmade pottery trend returned to stay.

The number of potters will increase. Also the number of those learning pottery as a hobby will increase. The potters who will stay in the long run will be those with high quality, aesthetics & reliability. And the buyers will decide who these will be.

There will be a great variety to choose from, that will cover all tastes: traditional, bohemian, ethnic, local, minimal, modern, functional, decorative, artisan and much more.

We, the buyers, will become more educated on pottery and more demanding. We will be searching for quality, fair trade, small batch, and the story behind each piece.

Local pottery gems will be worldwide available thanks to big marketplaces and to boutique e-shops with unique selections like Urban Folk …that’s us again 🙂 …

THANK YOU!

… If you have come all the way down here, thank you very much! I guess we share the same love for pottery. 

 

 

 

Do you agree, disagree or have information to add about WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT HANDMADE POTTERY? Please leave your comments below.

 

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