Atelier NL Explores the Colors of Local Clay

Eindhoven based ceramicists, Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyk of AtelierNL, takes the notion of “handmade” to the next level. Their process for creating their work transforms ceramics from craft to concept-driven art. They research and develop products out of local raw materials like creating clay from the earth of a local farm, or glass from local sand. Each product is stamped with the location where the materials have come from.

“We wanted to make tableware so that the vegetables prepared for dinner could be served from vessels made from the soil they came out of.”

The Polderceramics collection, Atelier worked with Noordoostpolder farmers to create tableware that corresponds with what the farm produces.”We wanted to make tableware so that the vegetables prepared for dinner could be served from vessels made from the soil they came out of,” says Lonny.

Each piece is made from clay harvested from the earth of individual farms. The raw clay is then sifted into a fine powder to remove any organic debris, like roots, that would cause the ceramic to crack. They then press the clay into a form. Each of the forms is meant to correspond with the produce of the farm. A strawberry bowl for a farm that produces strawberries, a set of plates for a farm that produces onions. The pieces entail details from traditional Dutch tableware makers, like a spout for a teapot to honor the history and tradition of Dutch ceramics.

This project eventually led to their current collection, Clay Service, which utilizes clay harvested from the province of Limburg, an area in the Netherlands tucked between Germany and Belgium. The clay is a soft yellow, that is stamped with the location of the clay source on each piece. Clay Service also has matching glassware, called Zandglass, where each of the three collections is made from local sand, which gives each collection a unique color. These are also stamped with the location of the sand, so the user of the glass can tell where the sand had come from.

If you’re a collector of ceramics, you’ll often know who and how your pieces are made. Even if you make ceramics you’ll know the manufacturer of the clay you use, but often times the location of the earth where the clay is sourced often goes untold. At AtelierNL, the earth is an integral part of the design and meaning of each of the pieces. Much research has gone into finding out what colors the soil produces or the sand produces in the glass. This brings the craft of making ceramics to another level, where it becomes about the concept of location visualized by the color of the ceramics. It’s a unique approach that makes one wonder what colors of clay would come out of meaningful places in our own lives.

Photos courtesy of AtelierNL