Product Design

More than Mugs: 5 Ways to Use Ceramics in the Home

February 24, 2016

Perhaps you've noticed, if you've lurked for as many hours as I have among the pages of our Shop, that we've got a thing or two for ceramics. It's a minor obsession for many of us, collecting plates, bowls, and kitchen objects, among other odd things, in, ahem, a certain color scheme. It's a trait that comes with the territory, and it's not something that shakes easily even when, perhaps, on vacation.

And while in Japan recently, I happened to come across Yumiko Iihoshi's achingly beautiful and feather-light work, which immediately triggered the place in my brain that yells "MUST ACQUIRE!" when I see gorgeous pottery.

A ceramic lampshade from Yumiko Iihoshi, left, and shallow, organically-curved dishes, right. Photo by Courtesy Yumiko Iihoshi

What I didn't expect was for her ceramics to surprise me—but there hung what looked like two top hats from the ceiling of her Osaka showroom. What are those? I thought, turning my head to better see underneath. They were hanging lamps, minimalist chandeliers for anyone allergic to spindly lighting arms. The design was novel, if not new, yet somehow filled me with a sense of discovery.

It got me thinking: When ceramicists and potters play in a sandbox that might not be eating or drinking vessels, what comes to life? These are a few of my favorite ways I've seen clay used recently, in purposes other than just for the tabletop.

Things to Hang

Wind chimes and lights, both from our Shop:

Decorative mobiles:

Planters and sconces:

Things to Wear

Pendants and charms:


Back at it ☺️ #handbuilding #ceramics #ceramicist #pollyfern

A photo posted by Polly Fern © (@pollyfern) on

Things For Your Desktop

Ink wells and brush holders:

A collection of objects with the purpose of painting, drawing and writing. All are hand thrown on the wheel using the same high-iron clay body and crackle glazes with altering iron oxide levels to determine the colours. The central piece is watercolour and ink palette, where sits a small brush-holder, water-pot, miniature inkwell and three palettes for mixing. The low white palette has a hairline band of gold lustre around the rim. The pots are set in a glassy smooth mahogany board with inlaid holes. I wanted a rich, warm colour in comparison to the colder whites, greys, greens and blues of the glazes used. Woodwork was a subject I studied in school over a number of years and although I don’t actively practice it these-days I still thoroughly enjoy it. These boards are remarkably pleasant to make, moreover I think I just like working through grades of sandpaper until it’s excessively polished and smooth. In comparison to ceramics, working wood is a very different experience. You are with the object absolutely until it’s finished, it’s your decision to when it’s finished, be it left with cut facets or sanded to a finish of glass. Ceramics has this very unusual period where your work is locked away, out of sight and it’s up to the combination of flame, gas and air that decide the outcome. It’s only considered finished once it’s been through this process. It can be immensely distressing as all your hard work can potentially be destroyed or emerge nothing like you imagined it would. Although very rare, it does happen. All it takes is for a shelf to crack to bring a whole stack of them done. Uncommon with simple gas and electric firings, shelves used for soda and salt are more susceptible as the substance sprayed in actively corrodes them and unfortunately one of our top shelves cracked during our soda firing on Friday. As it remains a molten mess for a number of days until it cools down the damage can only be assessed tomorrow. #pottery #ceramics #ceramic #clay #maker #livefolk #ink #calligraphy #craft #craftsmanship #handmade

A photo posted by Florian Gadsby (@floriangadsby) on

Incense holders:

A photo posted by @pkkceramics on

Things for Living Rooms & Bedrooms

Lamp shades:

Jewelry boxes:


Sunday morning vibes coming from the budding branches on our farm table! #woodstockvt #woodstockvermont #farmhousepottery

A photo posted by Farmhouse Pottery (@farmhousepottery) on

And, Fine, a Few Things for the Kitchen

A flask! A spice funnel!


Fork Fun! #porcelain #newyear #ceramics #flatware

A photo posted by Suzanne Sullivan (@suzannesullivanceramics) on

Tea pots:

#teapot #nomadhotel

A photo posted by Handmade Ceramics for Chefs (@jonopandolfi) on

What's the weirdest (best?) way you've seen clay used—and who did it? I'd like to know for research purposes...

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I love oysters and unfussy sandwiches.

1 Comment

Cory U. February 25, 2016
I love the love for clay-- some call it a revival, but clay never went away!