Hana Karim shares insights into her work with clay and how she uses fire and earth to create objects of beauty
Hana Karim (HK) tells us about the thrill of transforming clay from one shape to something entirely different and how she creates unexpected tints and gradients in her colourful glazes. Her approach to making tableware is steered by the desire to create beautiful objects that enrich our lives everyday.
What is it about clay that captures your imagination?
HK: Working with clay is demanding. I have a passion for labor-intensive projects, and working with clay or ceramics in its final stages offers numerous constant challenges. It's the thrill of its transformation that truly captivates my imagination. The fact that it starts as one shape and becomes something entirely different by the end of the journey is what draws me in. The more I work with it, the deeper my desire to learn and the stronger my love for the process.
Hana Karim handmade plates (photos, left by @imade_amess, right, by Hana Karim)
What inspires you to create uniquely formed tableware by hand?
HK: Well, it might seem unusual, but I don't always envision tableware when I create my objects. Sometimes, they are simply objects I like to arrange in a particular composition so they look like a painting. The practicality they offer is a bonus, as we all need beauty in our lives. Beautiful objects can be found in even the most mundane settings. Why not infuse beauty into something we use every day, whether it's a plate or a toothbrush? I believe it's these small things that enrich our lives.
You have mentioned that your work reflects the place of planet Earth in time and space. Can you elaborate on how this informs your work?
Clay is a remarkable material. It requires water, earth, air, and fire to take its final form. It's a mystical product of these primal elements, and its responsiveness to human touch adds to its allure. The tactile and utilitarian aspects of clay have made it a part of human design for centuries. Once fired, it can never return to its original state, embodying a timeless concept that I find deeply exciting.
Can you describe your studio space and your favourite areas to work in?
HK: My creative space is fortunate enough to be both spacious and flooded with natural light, thanks to 12 large windows. Working in natural light has transformed how I perceive my creations. I now notice intricate shadow play behind my objects and the mesmerizing reflections of sun in glazes, revealing a whole new spectrum of colors. Yet, I also appreciate empty spaces within my studio. Sometimes, to clear my mind, all I need is to look at an empty wall with a few plants.
The colours you achieve on different clays with your glazes are stunning. What inspires your colour choices, and do you aim for a specific glaze colour?
HK: Thank you! While I learned the techniques of working with clay from my mom, my affinity for colors likely comes from my dad, a painter and a master of color. Growing up, I was surrounded by their art and diverse color palettes. Using color in my work felt natural, and I never wanted to limit myself to monochromatic designs, although I appreciate them in others' work. I use colors to express the intricate connection to clay's micro-substances. Clay's color and texture result from tiny particles, and when combined with fire and glazes, they create unexpected tints and gradients. I often feel like I'm only responsible for half of the coloring, as fire and earth contribute to the other half.
I've noticed on Instagram that you've been creating sculptural vases, which appear to be new forms and techniques for you. Will these be part of your future collections?
HK: Absolutely. While I love crafting tableware for its intimate connection to people and their spaces, exploring new creative expressions is just as fun as working with clay itself. The sculptural vases represent a logical next step within my artistic vision, while still remaining true to the essence I infuse into my plates and bowls.
Hana Karim plates in her studio and Hana at work (photos by Hana Karim)
Are there any other new ideas on the horizon for your collections?
HK: Absolutely! I'm eager to explore more of my sculptures but also thinking of making a collection using the potter's wheel. I've had one since opening my studio in 2016, but I've only used it few times a year. Lately, I've been gravitating towards it, even though it takes me quite far out of my comfort zone. It's often in these moments that true magic happens.
Hana Karim in her studio and Hana Karim at work (photo by Marc Waldow)
We’d like to thank Hana Karim for sharing these wonderful insights into her work and process.
You can view Hana’s handmade plates collection here.