How to Find your Perfect Handmade Ceramic Piece

November 29, 2022

When I buy a ceramic piece, I prefer to choose handmade so that each time I use it I can be reminded of the time, energy, craftsmanship and love an artist put into making that particular piece.

Although artisan made ceramics are generally more expensive than their mass-produced counterparts if you discover and select the piece you personally like, and recognise the authentic earthen quality and unique design, you will be rewarded many times over by your choice.

But how do you find the right ceramic piece for you? It’s almost like purchasing usable art. And that is probably a good place to start.

Ceramics shine when they are used each day; whether for serving dinner, showing off your garden’s flowers or drinking your morning coffee. Artisan ceramics become our favourites and the more we connect with them, the more we love them..

From that we have two guiding points;

(1) look for a ceramic piece that you will use everyday; and

(2) think about using that piece everyday – can you imagine it being something for which your attachment grows?

If you are wondering what sort of ceramic piece you should look for, think about something that services something you love to do each day. If you love drinking coffee, of course a mug is perfect. If you get lost in picking, cutting and presenting flowers, a vase would be ideal. If you’re well regarded by your family and friends as a chef, a serving dish that shows off your work will bring you contentment. This is also a good criteria to use when buying ceramics as a gift, what does your recipient love and is there a piece that aligns with it?

Now with something in your mind, be it a mug, a bowl, vase, etc, it’s time to find your local artists. Our area recently had the Border Clay Trail weekend, which saw local ceramics artists open their studios, galleries and other spaces so the public could spend the day admiring the area’s pottery. The Northern Rivers also hosts the North Coast MUD Trail which takes place in August and shows off the wonderful ceramic artists around Byron and its Hinterland. These exhibition days at multiple venues are perfect for seeing the range of designs and skills being imparted into our daily household vessels. It has the added benefit of being able to touch the artwork, talk to the artist and see where it’s made as well, which is special.

When these local events aren’t on, you can still access studios and shopfronts and you can access old MUD/Clay Trail itineraries online to find the pick of the bunch. Start your search from there. Combine it with a drive in the country, a café visit and time with family or friends to add to the fun.

Once you start looking, you will start to get an idea of which pieces are starting to grab your fancy. Maybe it’s the colour, the size, the shape, the matching set or the clever glazing effect. Keep in mind practical considerations like the feel of an item in your hand, for example, if it is going to be your coffee cup. Many handmade ceramics are not dishwasher safe, if a dishwasher safe piece is important to you look for something glazed. Check for rough areas where you might prefer smooth. Do you find it stable enough, or the right size, or stackable?

Like anything, once you start comparing options, your favourite starts to become clear. Make sure you go with your personal preference as each of us will have slightly different tastes when it comes to choosing art. Talk with the artist and find out about the clay and the glazing. We’ve just received a range of ceramics that have been made from the mud that was being removed after the February 2022 floods and was saved by the artist off the back of a truck before it went to landfill. To not know that story about your coffee cup would be a life half lived!

You can find our entire ceramics collection in-store at Echora, with unique pieces from some incredibly talented local ceramicists - Mel Cox from Mazey Studio at Tweed Heads, Karen Bothmann from beKA Ceramics in Murwillumbah and Jacqui Sosnowski from Mullumbimby.

Tags art ceramics