There is something very grounding about ceramics. Perhaps it’s the clay, which comes directly from the earth that creates that instant connection to the natural material. Not to mention its inherent beauty. Plus, as anyone who’s ever molded or spun a piece of clay on a wheel will attest, the process is a deeply relaxing and almost meditative experience, too. Having loved this activity as a child, I have finally signed up for pottery classes to create pots and cups myself, but while I hone my skills, I will continue to admire and be inspired by the work of the many professional ceramicists that I love.
Having always championed ceramicists and their work here at 91 Magazine, we wanted to round a selection of inspirational ceramicists, so that you know where to go if you’re ever in need (or desire) of handmade, high-quality crockery or decorative objects. This is a taster of 25 of our favourites, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list – it would be impossible to include everyone! Some have appeared on our pages before, both virtual and physical, as we simply can’t get enough of them, while others are new discoveries, which we are equally as excited to introduce to you.
I’m writing this while sipping on some green tea from one such beautifully made mug and putting together this list has supplied me with a whole new wish list of one-of-a-kind mugs, bowls, vases and more. And I’m certain it will do the same to you.
Originally from Poland, Agata Kurzawa is an Edinburgh-based potter behind the brand Aku Ceramics. Her love for the craft is so immense that she can’t go more than a few days without sitting behind the wheel where she sculpts her functional tableware. Drawn to a muted colour palette of creams and beiges, Agata’s ceramics reference organic colours and textures combined with an artistic approach as her bowls are adorned with dripping paint, mugs feature single brush strokes and oil burners are covered in gentle speckles.
Canadian potter Jessie Thavonekham of London-based Atelier Jessie is not afraid of a graphic pattern like a fun check, a bold colour such as neon orange or a maxi size mug. So why not bring a piece of playful maximalism to your home with a mug or two, inspired by Jessie’s childhood memories, past travels and the seasons? Like her latest pastel-hued paint-dripped mug design referencing the spring months. Using solely recycled clays, every one of her personable mugs is made in small batches in the name of sustainability and reducing excessive consumerism.
Originally trained as an architect, Edinburgh-based Borja Moronta was always attracted to minimal shapes and muted shades. So when he refocused and transferred his skills into ceramics in 2018, it was only natural his work would take on the same style. Hailing from northern Spain, Borja’s pieces express the emotions he feels when creating them at the wheel – feelings of comfort and soothing. His aim is for him (and his customers) to look at the objects, whether it’s the signature tapered cup and saucer or a rounded bowl, and feel calm. At the same time, functionality is always at the forefront of the ceramicist’s mind when creating a new piece, like a series of small side plates to support his snacking habit.
btw ceramics’s Jackson Pollock-style paint-splattered pottery can be described in many ways, but perhaps the best word would be wacky. That is, after all, exactly what the founder Brooke T. Winfrey named her eccentric and colourful painterly designs balanced out by their simplistic shapes, made to liven up your home and table setting. Started in Brooklyn in 2011, these days Brooke handcrafts and hand-paints her objects in Los Angeles instead. And if you’re not a fan of too much colour, the brand’s monochrome yet equally splattered Torrent collection will satisfy your artistic craving.
E F Davies
East London-based potter Ned Davies is in love with the various techniques and finishes this creative practice has to offer. With a background in architecture, his wheel-thrown tableware takes on utilitarian and modernist forms but it’s the surface decoration such as sgraffito (a process of painting a piece with two layers and subsequently scratching the top layer to create a pattern) and oxide hand-painting that make them into little works of art. Only fully functional ones. Ned particularly enjoys exploring work with various kinds of clays, whether it is ash and dug clay or iron-rich volcanic rock used for his speckled designs.
Eleanor Torbati Ceramics
Focused on the principles of conscious, slow living, the work of Norwich-based ceramicist Eleanor Torbati is informed by the surrounding landscapes and coastlines of North Norfolk. This is reflected in the organic shapes and natural colours of her functional tableware and homeware. Subtle speckles and paint drips make for the only adornment of her minimalist yet calming pieces, while others are left entirely plain as demonstrated by the brand’s stoneware soap dishes featured in Volume 13 of 91 Magazine.
Ella Bulley Studio
Ella Bulley is a Ghanaian-born material designer based in London, who explores themes of historical, social and cultural movements through various mediums including ceramics. Having just completed a residency at London’s Design Museum, Ella’s latest collection of ceramic objects, titled ‘Ye O Niyenii’ which translates as ‘eat your food’ in the Ga language, celebrates the traditions of her motherland. Bold colours and graphic patterns intertwine atop irregularly shaped plates and sculptural vases, drawing inspiration from Ghanaian Homowo harvest festival and customs like the way the common waakye dish of cooked rice and beans is served in large sorghum leaves.
Sharing the same studio space as Borja Moronta in Abbeymount, Edinburgh but championing a different aesthetic is Slovenian-born Julija Pustovrh of Emporium Julium. Drawing on her background in landscape architecture, Julija’s distinctive technique celebrates the nature and the coasts of Scotland. This approach sees her collect samples of sands from various beaches around the country, which are then mixed in with the clay creating a unique texture. Referencing the rolling hills of the landscape, Julija’s pieces reveal a naturally marbled pattern created by mixing various recycled clays.
Grey Remedy was started by Melissa J. Chin in the city of Chicago in 2017. What started out as a hobby, soon grew into a deep passion and Melissa is now an established ceramicist with her own studio and brand. Celebrating a minimalist and elegant aesthetic focusing on the purity of shapes and proportion, the potter aims to elevate everyday routines into mindful rituals with her range of tableware. Free of prints and patterns, Grey Remedy’s designs come in solid colours and while past collections included pieces in white, soft pink or even a speckled finish, Melissa’s latest shop update features exclusively all-black pottery.
Relishing in a black and white colour scheme, Hannah Bould’s ceramics are known for their bold graphic patterns. Each piece is wheel thrown in the potter’s Peckham studio, where she adorns each mug, bowl, butter dish or lamp shade with geometric shapes, painterly brush strokes or softer scalloping, derived from Hannah’s training and previous work in illustration and print-making. All in keeping with the artist’s chosen monochrome palette. To learn more about her creative journey as a potter, check out our Meet the Maker profile of Hannah here.
A native to the United States, Katie Coston now creates her gentle and timeless ceramics for her brand Illyria Pottery from a garden studio in Oxfordshire, right next to the thatched cottage where she lives with her husband and young daughter. Overlooking a peaceful field, the sense of soothing tranquility can be found in her pieces too. Fascinated by nature from an early age, Katie incorporates earthly motifs into her work, whether it is by mimicking the organic shapes, directly impressing them into the clay or freehand drawing botanical patterns onto the pieces. You can read more about Katie and Illyria Pottery’s journey in our Meet the Maker story here.
KC Hossack Pottery
London-based Karin Hossack’s range of hand-built serve-ware is defined by its decorative edges, displaying scalloped patterns often inspired and named after flowers. From Daisy to Camellia petals, the glossy plates and bowls come in joyous solid colours, designed to be stacked, mixed and matched to really make the colours pop and the edges stand out. Trained as a potter at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Karin returned to ceramics after a taking a lengthy hiatus to help supply her daughter and food blogger Izy Hossack with tableware for her food photography. And the sweet scalloping of Karin’s plates still regularly appears throughout Izy’s imagery.
Lily Pearmain Ceramics
Lily Pearmain brings a personal touch to her pottery. Quite literally, as fingerprints are often intentionally left in the glaze of her vases or low-handle mugs as a nod to her love of the making and dipping processes. Living and working in South East London, Lily is driven by experimentation with various treatments of clay, while drawing inspiration from British studio ceramics. Her aesthetic is raw and simplistic one as she aims to make beautiful yet quiet pieces. Hence, glazing, for example, is minimal and objects such as dinner plates come with unglazed rims framing the design.
Liz Vidal Ceramics
Pottery has taken Liz Vidal all over the world before finally settling in her current home and studio in Bristol. After graduating from Manchester School of Art, she enjoyed a stint at a pottery collective in London and subsequently worked in a ceramics studios in sunny Bali and Australia. Perhaps that’s where the inspiration for the colourful, graphic patterns of her current work comes from. Focusing on utility and the tactility of the form, Liz creates a full range of tableware, as well as homewares such as oil burners and soap dishes.
Happiness is central to Lomito Ceramics aesthetic as smiley faces regularly appear on the Athens-based brand’s vases and bowls. The friendly motif can even be seen on the founder Margarita Mylona’s overalls, in which she hand-builds every object, each piece being unique because perfection is boring according to the potter. Other recurring designs include 3D florals, growing out of Margarita’s vessels with smileys in the centre, and colourful polka dots adorning everything from irregularly shaped mugs to trinket dishes.
Born and raised in Japan, Makiko is heavily influenced by the culture and aesthetic of her native land. Soft harmonious shapes and combining functionality with elegance are features often found in both Makiko’s designs and traditional Japanese crafts, founded on the philosophy of finding beauty in everyday objects. It is also the relationship between tableware and food culture that inspires the potter with an aim to bring joy to gatherings at the table, whether you choose the softly-hued and easy to mix and match ‘Mazekoze’ range or the ‘Rakugaki’ collection adorned with animal and floral drawings in pale blue accompanied by encouraging words of affirmation. Read more of Makiko’s story in our Anniversary Edition.
If playful yet sculptural shapes are your jam, then Hackney-based Miyelle Ceramics might just be what you’re looking for. Created by Miyelle Karmi, a trained graphic designer turned self-taught ceramicist, the brand marries the abstract with the natural. Curved shapes are fitted with exaggerated features like oversized handles, whether they are braided, wiggly or angled. By injecting her made-to-order pieces with these fun and striking motifs, Miyelle hopes to enhance her customers experience of everyday rituals. Her latest collection, titled ‘Nou’, is no different, leaning into the brand’s signature curvaceous form. The range of vases and table lamps draws inspiration from the island of Menorca, its waters, architecture and even the colour palette of warm terracotta and soft pastels.
Naked Clay Ceramics
Bedfordshire-based Naked Clay Ceramics is no stranger to 91 Magazine. We have featured Carla Sealey, the ceramicist behind the brand, a few times now, because we simply love her work. Most recently, Carla has appeared in Volume 13 showing us around her studio space, where she creates her minimalistic but by no means plain pieces. Working mainly with black stoneware and white porcelain, as one directly contrasts the other, the pieces are inspired by the natural colours and textures of the earth as they come unglazed and ‘naked’ on the outside fostering a tactile connection.
For Brighton-based ceramicist Nicola Gillis, inspiration can strike anytime and can come from anywhere, both from wild, natural elements and urban environments. Flaking paint, rusted metal or wood smoothed by the sea are all motifs that have influenced Nicola’s work. The result is personable ceramics with an earthy, almost tribal aesthetics, adorned with painterly brush strokes in a warm, natural colour palette. Creating from her garden studio, the ceramicist often uses clays collected from her local environments and experiments with incorporating wood ash in her glazes, which is a traditional technique of East Asian pottery.
Carrie Lau of Object-Matter Ceramic (O-M for short) is known for her playful and modern approach to ceramics. Native to Hong Kong, nowadays Carrie can be found working in her LA studio creating both traditional and unusual forms such as her signature ornamental knots perfect for decorating your walls. But nearly all of her objects bear a burst of colour, usually in the form of abstract shapes and graphic patterns. And if Carrie and her work look familiar, you’re right on the money – her creative story was featured in 91 Magazine’s special 10th anniversary edition.
The world of Alina Tang of Pansy is a bright and colourful one. Originally from sunny Perth, Australia, these days Alina and her vibrant shop/creative studio are nestled in the midst of Amsterdam’s bustling Eastern Docklands. Named after the brightly-hued garden flower, the space is filled with the maker’s adorable and striking ceramics – think flower-painted vases, fruity mugs and smiley face-adorned bowls – sitting alongside illustrated prints, greeting cards and other cute gift ideas. Read more about Alina’s illustration work here in our Meet the Maker profile, we also explored her previous shop interior in the 10th Anniversary Edition.
Paper Thin Moon
Paper Thin Moon first started out as a creative living and interiors blog written by former journalist Claire Holland before turning into a homeware online store in 2018. But pottery has been a huge part of Claire’s family history for over 200 years. Her father, Peter Fishley Holland, carries on the family tradition as a seventh-generation ceramicist. While Claire takes on the role of designer and creative director, it is Peter, the in-house potter of Paper Thin Moon, who creates every piece of pottery with care in his Sussex studio. The brand carries on with the same intention the blog was originally founded on – to inspire people to love where they live. And its pottery is created to help with that goal, whether you fall for the painterly Isaac plate or nature-inspired porcelain jugs. Talented Claire has previously shared her knowledge on pressing flowers and how to use edible flowers with 91 readers.
Pots by Nives
Slovenia-based Nives Ratkajec spends half of her time in her pottery studio making one-of-a-kind pots for her Etsy shop Pots by Nives and the other half teaching music. A creative by nature, Nives tried different avenues of expressing herself, from basket-weaving to wood-carving, before settling on ceramics. It is the material that never stops fascinating her as clay starts off soft and unruly and through the process of throwing, firing and glazing becomes obedient and hard-wearing, creating a stark contrast between fragility and strength. Having attended several pottery courses in the UK to develop her technique, Nives tends to get carried away at the wheel as she lets the clay and her instinct determine the shapes of her functional pieces.
Seeing the joyful and sunny designs of Takeawei, it is clear they could only come from the land of sun and waves that is Australia. And sure enough, each piece of ceramics is handmade on the Surf Coast of Victoria, Australia and sold through the brand’s flagship store in Melbourne. Founded in 2013 by Chela Edmunds, the trained textile designer first pursued a fashion career in New York before stumbling upon a potter in Brooklyn, who inspired her to move back to her native Australia and start her own pottery brand. Each of her vibrantly hued objects are fun yet functional, from the boob jewel boxes and bud vases to mugs with knotted or daisy-shaped handles.
For Tor Harrison of Toro Studio, ceramics is a form of art rather than simply a piece of homeware or a utensil. That’s why her vessels, made in limited numbers a year and infused with an ancient yet organic aesthetic, are sold exclusively through galleries such as Morgans Gallery in Falmouth and Wondering People in London. Hand-building each of her timeless pieces in her Cornwall studio using traditional techniques like pinch and coiling, Tor is drawn to slow living and honouring the natural cycles of the seasons and hopes to inspire the same in others with her work.