There’s something more valuable than antiquing for rare and priceless porcelain ceramics and that’s scouting for sustainable earthenware that doesn’t cost the Earth.
Our need for ceramics began before they were even used for decorative purposes. As far back as 4500 BC, our ancestors used it as kitchenware. In fact, pottery may just be the oldest handicraft in the world. These exquisite artifacts showcase the evolution of arts and culture across civilisations and what is astounding is that many of these masterpieces were fashioned from dirt!
Clay ceramics and porcelain are made from the earth and when their purpose is over, they go back to, well, the earth. However, what originally was an all-natural, hand-thrown art has evolved to a practice that has become rather hazardous to human health and the planet’s. Adding plastics to the clay mix to make them more durable, glazing the clay with lead compounds or leaving heavy carbon footprint with just the process of firing the clay in the kiln are just some ways our love of pottery can cause pollution and damage.
Some potters are taking a more sustainable approach to pottery such as embracing ‘greenware firing’ and recycling ceramic waste. Here are just some of the places you can find sustainable, handcrafted vases and flower vessels made by passionate potters and talented artisans:
Founded by Jessica Ruiz, a Chilean living in Australia (where the ceramicist discovered her love for pottery), Alma Terra Pottery is handmade, small batch pottery that is designed for the art lover’s home. Ruiz is fairly new to this raw craft but creates quirky, utilitarian pieces like a master potter. Her unique pieces are ideal to give as a present. Alma Terra ceramics are all handmade using 10 stoneware in the beautiful Ovens Valley in Victoria.
Here and Now pottery is proudly and sustainably made in the Ukraine. Founder Yuliya Makliuk crafts each piece by hand and is dedicated to practicing her craft without consuming too much energy and producing lots of waste. Finding ways to incorporate broken ceramic shards, glass shards and even clay waste sludges into existing pieces, Here and Now Pottery proves that minimal waste pottery is possible. All ceramic items, except for the large vases, are packed plastic-free and even Christmas tree ornaments are made with reclaimed clay and hemp thread.
Made of porcelain and handcrafted by artisans in Hasami, Japan, these stylish, high-quality ceramic vases suit the minimalist home. Japanese porcelain dates as far back as 1300 years and in the region of Hasami, about 400 years old. KINTO employs local craftspeople who keep the heritage artform alive.
Founded in 1994 and made in a studio-showroom in Kallio Finland, Udumbara has built a reputation on luxury earth-friendly pottery and handmade sculptures made from red clay. Potter and artisan Eva Spoof hand-spins her flower pots into a beautiful and durable work of art that will suit many corners of your home – inside or out.
It amazes me how incredible people can be. As much as we have gotten used to consuming too much and then producing a lot of waste, here comes the great souls who do whatever they can to take care of the planet, such as Katherine Tomlinson who handcrafts vegan-certified ceramics at Oxford Clay Ceramics in the UK.
Using eco-conscious pottery glazing, 100% renewable energy and zero animal byproducts Oxford Clay Ceramics’ sophisticated, dainty and eco-friendly vases and vessels make a wonderful addition to the vegan home.
Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Decorating a Vegan Home
Nature by Hand is made in Denmark and offers craftsmanship that is in harmony with nature. All handcrafted products have a minimalist, earth tone design with a stylish flair. Each work of art features natural materials and are so well-made that all their items look high-end and expensive.
Rather than a shop, Pagburnayan in the main Filipino dialect of Tagalog translates to a place to make pots. And you can hit terra cotta heaven in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in the Philippines where jars upon jars of earthenware are found. However, there are a lot of towns in Ilocos where you can find a Pagburnayan (pottery shops) to buy the famous clay pots known as burnay.
A burnay is originally used to age vinegar, wine and bagoong (or fish paste) but these jars, that come in all sizes, are also used in a lot of different ways such as using it as a plant or flower pot.
Some burnay artisans are still practicing the ancient art form of making pots in Ilocos – where the clay that is mixed with sand is trampled by a carabao (a water buffalo native to the Philippines), pressed and molded by hand before baking the pot in an open kiln then leaving it to dry. However, these days some burnay artisans use a more sustainable approach of greenware pottery where pots are unglazed and unfired which is more eco-friendly than the general practice.
For a wide selection of secondhand vases and used vessels, you can also check out Etsy, eBay, Facebook Marketplace or your local thrift store and op-shop. Many of these places carry heaps of pre-loved vases and pots that range from antique chic to whimsical.
Cover image via KINTO/Made Trade.