I may have a favorite-shop problem — I have way more than ten! So these are my ten favorite ceramic/pottery shops, and what I love about them. Does it seem strange, you might ask, to favorite shops of people who make ceramics, when I make ceramics? Not at all, I would reply. I make ceramics because I love ceramics; just because I admire what someone else does, doesn’t mean I would make it the same way; just because I didn’t make it doesn’t mean I am blind to the creativity and beauty of it.
So, here are ten artists and makers whose talent and viewpoint have caught my eye. Six of them I’ve found by my hours spent pouring over the hashtag “ceramics” on Instagram. One of them I found in person. Three of them I’ve purchased from (one, multiple times), and the rest, I have favorite items that are on my wishlist.
1. Blue Sky Pottery Company. I believe I found this shop through an advertisement on Ravelry for yarn bowls… but I just love everything in her shop. Mostly for her use of color, which is rich without clashing, and translucent without being pastel. She’s got some owl items that really tickle me – large mugs and also latte mugs (which I would probably use for soup bowls). I love the imaginative, happy look of her things!
2. City by the Sea. My knitter friends have already heard all about Karen, because I was able to snatch up a yarn-decorated mug that I’d been watching her make on Instagram. I love the form she uses for her mugs; not traditional round, but also not quite square… and that she uses old-school techniques like rope impressions for decoration really speaks to the part of me that appreciates lessons learned through history. Next up – because I know I’ll purchase from her again – I either want her Sashiko embroidery mug or the one decorated with chrysanthemums.
3. Clay by Fray. Another Maker I’ve been following on Instagram, and I was amazed that the pot I purchased by him was his very first Etsy sale. This guy is only 19, and has more talent than I’ve seen in someone more than twice his age. His glazing choices are stunning; he combines colors in a way I wouldn’t even think of but get an “OF COURSE” moment when I see. I know this is about Etsy, but he also has a really great YouTube channel where he posts videos of throwing pots, and they are informative and absolutely hilarious. He does occasionally drop the f-bomb, so be aware if you are a Gentle Reader.
4. Claymates Pottery. I forget how I found this artist; probably when looking for yarn bowls at some point in time. I love her use of decoration – I am charmed by both the button mugs and the yarn bowl with the sheep on it. And I need, need, NEED her mug that has a zipper on it! NEED IT. Don’t you all run out and buy it before I get a chance. Of course I may be partial to her choice in color usage, too; a lot of browns and greens, which are my favorite.
5. Earth, Wool, and Fire. Nobody makes yarn bowls like this – nobody. I could go broke getting all of the yarn bowls I want (and then I’d be the crazy old lady with the yarn bowl collection). They do make a few simple yarn bowls, where the color does all the work and the cutouts are creative and subdued… and then they make things that look like they came, fully formed, from my dreams. Owls. Sheep. A sadly discontinued TARDIS. Castles. Dragons. Since I missed out on the TARDIS, my heart is now set on the octopus. Really unique bowls that make my jaw drop.
6. Hop ‘n’ Frog Pottery. What caught my eye on Instagram were the brilliant, brilliant mugs with frogs on the handles. I love her carving work, and am in awe of what she does (the spider mugs do freak me out a little, but, SPIDER). The small details are the best; the ladybugs, the eyes on the frogs… And if you follow her on Instagram, she also posts a lot of art that sells out faster than she can get it up on Etsy – gorgeous vases, and tiles painted with scenery from where she lives.
7. Monster Mug. Her mugs look like what I feel like before I have my coffee. I mean, really; what is *not* to love about mugs that look like little monsters, with arms or tentacles, and great big open mouths with teeth?! This is so creative, and so brilliant. While most of her glaze choices are bright and brilliant, I think my favorite piece right now is the Frozen Ice Monster – he reminds me of the Bumble on the old Rankin/Bass Christmas special, which of course brings me right back to my childhood. Chalk up another mug on my wish list!
8. One Clay Bead. The shapes of her objects is what originally appealed to me. Her bowls have such an unusual twist to them; she is definitely inspired by nature and that is reflected in the shape and detail of her work as well as her glaze color choices. She uses a blue-green on the tops of some of her mugs that really catches the eye; it’s almost like a copper patina. I’m in love with her nesting bowls, which are not the traditional round, and also her poppy bowl series (like I said, clearly inspired by nature!).
9. Swampfires Pottery. I originally found them at our local Medieval faire; they had a booth set up and were doing kickwheel throwing demonstrations. The sisters are funny, and banter well, and are absolutely women I would want to hang out with if we lived just the tiniest bit closer (as it is they are about four or five hours away). It’s definitely worth looking for their booth if you like Medieval/Renaissance fairs! The colors of what they have on Etsy are brighter (that red!) than what I’ve seen at their booth, which are mostly earth colors; greens, blues, browns (of course, my favorites).
10. Wild Card Pottery. Three words: Mugs. With. Tentacles. Who wouldn’t love those?! Like a sweet little octopus offering you your morning coffee! I like the sgraffito (carving) and painting that she does, but I love, love, love the tentacle mugs. You can definitely see her love for the sea and the coast reflected in her work. I admire work that comes, so clearly and obviously, out of a love for something.
OK, and here’s one bonus, because.
11. Steve Hansen Ceramics. Another one that I found on Instagram. I love his decal choices (many are old advertisements from the late 40s and 50s – my friends who love pinups would love some of his pieces). The little plates-and-screws that he adds between the panels on his pieces, and what he does around the seams to make them look like aging metal, is just brilliant. I would be hard-pressed to narrow down what I want from his shop to just one object, and have already found many things I want to give as gifts.