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Setting the Scene with Handmade Ceramic Tableware

Eye-catching aqua blue glazed ceramic tableware displayed on a table with fruit garnishes and cutlery

There’s something irresistibly appealing about handmade ceramic tableware, which explains why so many people are avid collectors. Much of the lure is visual – the glimmer and freckle of minerals in clay, the moonlit clarity of porcelain or the richness of natural colours. The infinite possibilities of shape are also a draw. Organic curves and sweeps mean there’s a different detail to see from every angle. 

For many of us, it’s the feel of handmade ceramics that sets them apart from their machine-produced counterparts. They’re made to be held and used, as well as looked at. By celebrating and magnifying the intrinsic properties of their raw materials, they make a feature of natural tones and textures. Look to plates from Hana Karim to see the extra dimension and pattern that comes from the simple speckles found in unrefined clay.

 

Hana Karim stoneware plates and serving platters stacked together showing a colour palette of pinks, blues, beige and honey brown, plus the speckled character of the glazed clay.

 Hana Karim plates and platters

Much of the joy of ceramic tableware is found in the union of texture, balance and weight. Imagine running your finger across the line where lustrous glaze meets sandy clay. Think about the comfort that comes from hugging a stoneware mug in your hands or clutching its generously sized handle. Featherlight porcelain cups made by Penny Spooner, with their perfect proportions and clean lines, embody this sense of grounded contentment.

Handmade ceramic tableware - porcelain dipped pink cup by Penny Spooner and mint mug and bowl by Julie Damhus Studio.

Handmade ceramic tableware (left to right): Penny Spooner Ceramics Porcelain Dipped Orchid Mug, Julie Damhus Studio Mint Oda Mug and Bowls 

When you pick up a handmade ceramic plate, cup or bowl, your hands follow the same journey taken by those of the maker. There’s an immediate connection between craftsperson and user. It’s fascinating to imagine the process of drawing out a beautiful and functional object from an apparently unpromising lump of clay. Even when produced with immense skill, no two pieces will ever be identical, which adds intrinsic value you’d never get from mass production. Put together a dinner set from Julie Damhus Studio, and you get a harmonious collection of complementary pieces, each with something individual to discover. 

In the realm of artisanal pottery, the notion of imperfection is a cause for celebration. In every uniquely asymmetrical form, intriguing texture and errant dribble of glaze, you can see the maker’s figurative fingerprint. Hana Karim makes a virtue of this, as her work is untemplated and shaped by touch. This means a stack of her plates is like a pile of pebbles washed to shore – the same force has created them, but with distinctive results every time. This handmade uniqueness is also celebrated by SGW Lab in their collection of colour-contrast glazed mugs.

A shelf displaying a selection ceramic mugs, cups and tableware in varying tones of blues and different colour glaze patterns
Handmade ceramic tableware (left to right): Penny Spooner Ceramics Porcelain Dipped Mugs, Julie Damhus Studio Mint Oda Bowls, SGW Lab Ocean Blue Glazed Porcelain MugJulie Damhus Studio Blue Oda Mug and Mint Oda Mugs, Hana Karim Avo Green Mini Dish and SGW Lab Aqua Blue Glazed Porcelain Mug

 

In the hands of an inspired ceramicist, the possibilities of colour are boundless. Relationships between shades echo those found in nature – sometimes surprising but always concordant. By choosing biophilic tones, clever crafters enhance the natural characteristics of the clay they work with. The gentle petal pinks and earthy browns found in plates and bowls from Julie Damhus gain depth and interest from stippled finishes and painterly washes. Glossy or matte glazes are on hand to add drama and contrast while emphasising texture. Hana Karim’s work is a masterclass in blending colours, while SGW Lab’s seemingly spontaneous transitions from one hue to another evoke the play of light on the horizon.  

Eye-catching aqua blue glazed ceramic tableware displayed on a table with fruit garnishes and cutlery

Handmade ceramic tableware (clockwise from top left): Julie Damhus Studio Mint Oda Mug and Mint Oda BowlHana Karim Sky Dinner/ Serving Plate and Avo Green Mini Dishes, Julie Damhus Studio Mint Toto PlateSGW Lab Aqua Blue Glazed Porcelain Mug and Penny Spooner Ceramics Porcelain Dipped Mug on another Hana Karim Sky Dinner/ Serving Plate, also featured The Organic Company Dusty Mint Dinner Napkins

 

Natural tablescapes featuring handmade ceramics feel effortlessly warm and welcoming. There’s an edge of informality, which speaks of comfort and the delight of good company. But that doesn’t mean sophistication is overlooked. Envisage Penny Spooner’s dip-glazed mugs and a nest of Julie Damhus Studio bowls set on a well-washed linen tablecloth against a tumble of seasonal flowers. Isn’t that a table you’d love to pull a chair up to?

To put together your own biophilic settings, shop our collection of handmade ceramic tableware, crafted in the UK and Europe.

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