While it may seem like everyone and their brother is getting into ceramics, the ceramic trend has not reached every single corner of the globe. Some cities don’t have a solid infrastructure for budding ceramicists other than a local community college. That makes it all the more special to see cities that do have a thriving ceramics community. From Los Angeles to Eindhoven different communities exist that each has their specific aesthetic and approach. Here we talk with six ceramicists around the world to see what it is that makes their cities such a magnet for creativity in clay.

Los Angeles: A Question of Eagles

“Southern California has such a rich history of ceramics and it’s been very inspiring to see that tradition continue to thrive right now. Besides the practical issues like affordability and space (although that is rapidly changing!), I think it’s really the ceramics community that has formed here that lures people to LA. Everyone is generous with one another, and there is truly an attitude of community over competition! There is room for everyone’s voice, and that type of attitude does not always exist in creative circles. Also, the current wellness movement in LA has really brought the joy that can be found in using handmade ceramics to a larger audience. More and more chefs, food stylists, wellness bloggers are highlighting tableware by local potters, and there is a general awareness that what you eat from can be a thoughtful extension to the care that went into preparing your food. And let’s face it the weather and landscape of Southern California are incredible! For us, the landscape here is an endless source of inspiration and it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else right now.” ~Melissa Tolar, A Question of Eagles

San Francisco: MM Clay

“I’ve been making and selling pottery in San Francisco (bay area) for over 20 years. In the past 5 years, ceramics has become more of an interest to people as there is seemingly some sort of call to clay. It certainly helps that bay area chefs are becoming more willing and committed to using handmade wares in their restaurants taking the farm to table movement one step further, artist to table. In fact, it’s becoming something that diners look for (around here) almost as if the quality of the food is not only defined by what the chef prepares but also what it is served on.

“Everyone seems to want to be a part of something more organic and less mechanical, escaping the screen to get their hands dirty.”

With the Bay Area being so immersed in technology, the idea of something handmade becomes even more appreciated. Contemporary craft fairs have become quite popular (Renegade/ West Coast Craft) as people seem to find a sense of comfort and fascination for things that are still made by hand and not mass produced. It is this same craving that leads people by the throngs into pottery classes. Everyone seems to want to be a part of something more organic and less mechanical, escaping the screen to get their hands dirty.
I can’t say I blame them. In fact, I totally get it.” ~Mary Mar Keenan, MM CLAY

New York City: Malka Dina

“I think for city-dwelling artists, there is definitely this draw to clay right now as sort of a rebellion against all things synthetic or tech related.  I like to refer to pottery as “playing with mud” because for all intents and purposes it is- you are using your hands to shape raw earth and you’re using techniques that have been used for thousands of years.  I think it’s the same reason that a lot of traditional crafts are having a boom right now like weaving, natural dyeing, metalsmithing etc.  It’s a way to slow down and to connect with natural materials and ancient skills when everything feels so disconnected and disposable.” ~Elana Noy, Maka Dina

London: Emma Lacey 

“There is a great community of both recently graduated ceramics students, established professionals and ceramics enthusiasts in London so there are many opportunities to share and exchange knowledge, advice, space, and equipment.” ~Emma Lacey

Portland: Enkee Ceramics

“I think Portland is a Mecca for a variety of creatives…Portlanders appreciate handcraft, the city has a very “Indy” spirit from ceramics to clothing, jewelry, beer, and wine. A past Portlandia episode sums this up perfectly…A couple dining out ask their server exhaustive questions wanting to know where exactly did the chicken they ordered come from. :)”   ~Denise Mckenzie-Lee, Enkee Ceramics

 

Eindhoven: Kirstie Van Noort

“I think there are a lot of makers and designers because the city is quite small, the step to production and collaboration is very easy and literally small.  Also, Design Academy Eindhoven has a course to learn ceramics. I had the chance to get classes from Frans Ottink, a well-known Dutch ceramicist, still very thankful for everything he taught me!” ~Kirstie Van Noort