Hand-thrown, fired, painted, and glazed, ceramics solidify what it means for art to be both beautiful and functional. Here’s how to take home a bit of local culture and creativity inspired by your adventures.
From Los Angeles to Maine, Memphis to Minneapolis, talented ceramicists are turning cold, wet earth into vases and pots to admire and use in your home. Even if you’re not traveling for art or design, consider making room in your suitcase for a lovely ceramic souvenir from one of these artists based across the United States. (And if your bag is already overstuffed, you can order these distinctive ceramics online.)
The ceramics at BZippy & Co., an Los Angeles–based company headed by artist Bari Ziperstein, are inspired by brutalist architecture. Ziperstein had her start in studio-based sculpture and experimental public art, but when she grew tired of throwing away scrap material, she channeled that energy into crafting a line of functional ceramics–lamps, side tables, bookends, and the like. Pick up one of her wares online, at various retailers, or at her L.A. studio (by appointment only). From $120.
Karen Gayle Tinney
Ceramics and fibers blend ever-so-delicately in Karen Gayle Tinney’s Long Beach-based studio. Her online shop carries vases, bowls, platters, and wall decor–all marrying a handmade ceramic element with neutral or colorful cotton-based fringe threaded, wrapped, and secured to the ceramic base. When she’s looking for something with a little more sheen, Tinney will opt for tencel, a plant-based fiber, rather than cotton, which is used on the vase above. Peruse her pieces online or stop by one of the worldwide stockists that keep her products on hand. From $60.
Object and Totem
For Object and Totem’s ceramics, Philadelphia-based ceramicist and founder Julianne Ahn channels Bauhaus design and optical art. Whether practical or strictly decorative, Ahn’s pieces showcase her experimental, design-forward approach. The trumpet wedge vase above consists of a hand-thrown vase stacked on top of a handmade slab box. Pick up one of her pieces online or at one of her select stockists, found on her website. From $36.
ANK Ceramics is the acronymous name for a line of sculptural vessels made by Maine-based potter Ariela Nomi Kuh. Her items include expertly crafted mugs, plates, and bowls; her one-of-a-kind tableware shines, showing off her architectural creativity and careful mixing of small-batch glazes. Find her wares in select restaurants throughout the Northeast, stop by her studio (by appointment only), or purchase a piece online or at one of her many stockists. From $32.
Rippled, scrunched, cross-hatched, and smoothed: Cym Warkov’s textured creations are the kind that make you cock your head, squint your eyes, and question whether it’s ceramic at all. Based out of St. Paul, Minnesota, Warkov has mastered the art of imperfection, and her natural-hued vessels hold flowers and lampshades or stand on their own. Find Warkov’s work at one of her stockists around the United States, or place a special order online. From $90.
Ceramicist and jewelry-maker Lucy Voller is one artist among the four-person Minneapolis-based artists’ collective There There. She and her fellow artists specialize in mixed media and eclectic, geometrically designed jewelry, all created by hand. Voller’s terra-cotta arch vase is made to order, but other ready-made There There products can be found online and at select retailers throughout Minnesota. From $42; terra-cotta vase is $98.
CLAM LAB’s Clair Catillaz is a self-taught ceramicist, and she says she wants her pieces to be both beautiful and comfortable to hold. Her work is constantly evolving, not only because each piece is hand-thrown or hand-built but also because each piece is altered slightly from previous models to achieve a certain aesthetic or tactile goal. In this sense, Catillaz says she works in a “family” so the pieces are somewhat related but not all the same. Pick up one of her pieces online, at a select retailer around the United States, or at her Catskill, New York, studio (by appointment only). From $62.
Sarah Wolf describes her interests in nature and art as mutually exclusive when she was growing up; however, she now melds the two in the form of Wolf Ceramics. With an undergraduate degree in geochemistry, Wolf understands well how minerals react in the kiln. The surface designs, sometimes with pops of sunshine yellow and ocean blues, represent the inspiration she draws from patterns in nature. Find her products online or at select retailers, or stop by one of her biannual sales held at her Portland studio. From $26.
For Portland-based ceramicist Mica DeMarquez, the focus is on color, pattern, and shape. Much of her work at Mimi Ceramics showcase a raw clay exterior, but they’re elevated with striking hand-dipped or hand-painted designs. Recently, DeMarquez set up a 24-hour sale, donating 100 percent of profits from every Dot Mug purchase to a charity for the victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack. “I often want to help with these various causes, but I don’t usually have much to offer,” DeMarquez says. “All I have sometimes is my pottery, and this is my way of using that to be able to give.” Stock pieces–most of which are made to order–can be purchased online or at one of her worldwide stockists. From $24.
Paper & Clay
Brit McDaniel’s brainchild, Paper & Clay, was born in 2013 and has since become a flourishing business for small-batch handmade ceramics. McDaniel likes the way ceramics allow her to connect with her customers. “It’s one of the things that first drew me to ceramics,” McDaniel says, “the ability to create an object that you can hold, use, be close to.” Paper & Clay products can be purchased at its Memphis storefront on Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., online, and at select retailers throughout the United States. From $18.