Updated: Oct 13, 2020
At one point in my life, I might have called myself a ceramicist. To be clear, if I did call myself this, it was a gross overstep and a complete misnomer for what I was: a high school student in a ceramics class. Anyway, during my time as a self-proclaimed ceramicist, I learned that to make good ceramics is not just to slap clay together in hopes that something nice comes out. Instead, it's about understanding the physical nature of clay, becoming one with the potter's wheel and learning the nuances of the kiln; it's about realizing that every move must be carefully calculated and monitored in order to achieve success.
At every point during the process of making ceramic works, there is a chance for something to go wildly wrong. You could rip the piece on the wheel or blow it up in the kiln. You could use a bad glaze or drop it while carrying the completed piece. There are endless points during the process where precision is needed, which for me of course meant a lot of broken pieces, chipped edges and uneven vases.
Perhaps it is precisely because of these failures that I now adore ceramic work, or perhaps it is due to my obsession with design and the integrity that a beautiful and careful piece holds. Whatever the reason may be, all I know is that I love ceramics and I closely follow several studios that produce work that is not only well crafted but that is practically oozing with character.
I decided enough was enough and it was time to share these studios with all of you. So, without further adieu, here are four of my favorite ceramicists and ceramic studios:
1. Tom Kemp
Tom Kemp, a British ceramicist, uses porcelain and a potter’s wheel to create his masterpieces. Usually he includes some sort of “writing” on the pieces, typically done by a single brush stroke. He says that these strokes “contain a huge amount of information about the way my body works during these few seconds.”
I am absolutely addicted to Tom’s work and love seeing his new videos and posts on Instagram. While his pieces occasionally run a little high in price, many of the smaller pieces are more financially attainable and equally as beautiful.
Equally as exciting as the actual pieces are the captions and descriptions he pairs with them on Instagram. His fascination with the history of language and art are incredibly refreshing and inspiring. Head over to his instagram @tomkemp to check it out.
Hiis online shop goes live every now and again so subscribe to the newsletter on his website to be notified about these openings.
2. Silver Spot Ceramics
Emma, the UK based ceramicist behind Silver Spot Ceramics, makes beautifully whimsical pieces that are designed to brighten any day. She uses a combination of glazes to achieve the perfect thickness and color that make her pieces so unique.
Emma decided to pursue her creative passions last year when she turned 30, and hasn’t looked back since. For more from Emma and Silver Spot Ceramics, check out her instagram @thesilverspot and her website!
3. Red Dragon Pottery
If you haven’t yet fallen in love with ceramics, you’re about to. Troy Schmidt - a pottery maker and teacher - creates the tiniest little ceramic pieces that you could ever want.
He has been working with miniature (1 inch scale) pottery for over 25 years, and has perfected the method by which he throws them individually on a full sized potters wheel. The pieces range from vases to kettles to miniature tables and other intricate objects that he calls “Objet d’Art.”
His work is incredibly unique and fun. For more from Troy, check out his Instagram @reddragonpottery and his website.
4. Studio Arhoj
Studio Arhoj is on a slightly larger scale than the others mentioned in this, but it seemed impossible to make this post without including them. Run by founder Anders Arhoj, the studio is based in Copenhagen, Denmark and uses colors and shapes to create unique, exciting pieces.
They often use eyes and facial features to give even more personality and depth to their fun pieces, as can be seen in the photos. Their hand-thrown and cast pieces can be found across the world. The studio is constantly releasing new colors, glaze combinations and limited edition pieces to keep things fresh and avoid getting bored.
I stumbled upon their work while visiting the Copenhagen Design Museum in 2019 and immediately fell in love with it. Not only do their pieces have so many compellin and fun design components, but the integrity of each piece is obvious and apparent.
They can be found on Instagram @studioarhoj and on their website.