Functional Ceramics

We’ve collected a lineup of work from potters who know how to use color and line to communicate both beauty and function.

“Clique Mugs” by Ed and Kate Coleman.

Ed and Kate Coleman know clay—they’ve had their hands in it since they were each 15 years old. The pair obtained fine arts degrees from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., before setting up a workshop in 2000. Today, the Swannanoa, N.C., artists “work within the parameters of a series, keeping each piece unique,” in their line of porcelain mugs, vases, clocks and tumblers.

“Patchwork Teapot” by Boyan Moskov of Boyan Pottery.

Boyan Pottery has its roots in the old world—Boyan Moskov was born and raised in Bulgaria. He pursued his art education there, establishing his own successful ceramics studio in 2003. Moskov met his wife Anna while she was working for the Peace Corps, and in 2007 they married and moved to Contoocook, N.H. Today, he produces a range of functional pieces with bright pops of color.

“Caged LolliBird Cream & Sugar Set” by Tyson and Jessica Geib of Lollipop Pottery.

Jessica and Tyson Geib grew up in Ohio with an affinity for making things well. They met at a production pottery studio and worked together for five years before realizing they’d be better off as husband and wife. When the Geibs lost their jobs on the same day in 2007, they decided to launch Lollipop Pottery. Today, the partners use their complementary talents to produce everyday pottery with pleasing handmade decals.

“Large Bicycle Plate” by Josh and Margaret Smith of Dovetail Ceramics.

It’s no accident that Josh and Margaret Smith named their studio Dovetail Ceramics at its 2005 launch—it represents the fusion of their talents in printmaking and ceramics. Today, the Smiths create a line of distinctive black-and-white porcelain dishes that incorporates offbeat screenprints with softly squared ceramic forms in their Lexington, Ky., studio.

“Sea Star” ornaments and bowls by Christie Chaplin-Saunders of Artifacts in Clay. Credit: Erik Walsh.

Christie Chaplin-Saunders’ goal as a designer is “to entice people to contemplate both artifacts and nature, and remind them of rejuvenating experiences at the shore or in the forest,” she explains. Chaplin-Saunders has run Artifacts in Clay in Chester, Nova Scotia, since 1987, and is still very much the creative mastermind behind the tactile tabletop items.

Clocks by Mea Rhee of Good Elephant Pottery.

“I make pots for anyone who wants a stylish and functional home,” says Mea Rhee of Good Elephant Pottery in Silver Spring, Md. She lets her Korean heritage, Maryland upbringing and graphic-design education guide her aesthetics, producing minimal, rustic pots that can stand up to everyday use. Although she’s been a self-employed graphic designer since 1996, she strives to make her love of clay her only full-time venture.

“Ripple” bud vase by Vaughan Nelson of One Blue Marble.

Vaughan Nelson of One Blue Marble is influenced by his travels as a child—his father was in the U.S. Air Force—and the details he finds in everything from the Art Nouveau movement to the artwork of the Oaxacan Indians. The San Diego, Calif., artist has produced a functional line of ceramics since 2003, “as a way to express myself using something other than words,” he says. “Rough edges, irregular shapes and imperfect circles are where I find beauty.”

“Vivid Poppy” pet dish by Jillian and Robin Carway of Silver Pail Pottery.

Silver Pail Pottery is the work of mother-daughter team Robin and Jillian Carway, established in 2006 in Summerville, S.C. Jillian, a university-trained artist, launched the business with her mother as the manager, but Robin soon became her “partner in grime.” Today, the pair produces everything from bowls and vases to tumblers and pet dishes complemented by bright, engaging patterns and glazes.

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