Pottery is having a moment. Ceramics is no longer just thought of as a craft taken up in retirement or taught in elementary school. Mugs are no longer simply knick-knack memorabilia brought home from gift shops, but being sold alongside gorgeous jewelry and fancy clothing at places like Mociun and Steven Alan. Thanks to Instagram, ceramicists have been given a spotlight and more and more are actually able to foster careers making their functional—and beautiful—art. And noticeably, many of those leading the charge are women.
Ahead, 10 female potters whose work you’ll want to start collecting immediately.
You may recognize Helen Levi’s signature marbled design. The waves of blues and grays decorate mugs and planters sold in cool web shops and boutiques across the country. They would be a happy addition to a succulent-filled window sill or a Saturday morning breakfast spread, but the Brooklyn-based potter has a lot more up her sleeve.
We love her splatter and ombre pattern pieces as well, and this past summer, she released a sleek dinnerware line.
Growing up in Japan, Shino Takeda’s mother was an avid collector of traditional Japanese ceramics, which garnered her interest in arts and crafts from a young age. But it wasn’t until 2010, that she took up pottery while living in New York City. It started as a hobby, but after two years she left her job to pursue it completely.
Her work is vibrant and full of life, with a sense of raw playfulness . “I am inspired by nature and what I see each season,” she says. “Every day there are different colors around me, I try and immerse myself in these colors and capture them in my work.”
You could fill your home with Clair Catillaz of Clam Lab’s pieces. Their muted color palette and soft curves have a soothing quality that would complement any interior style from minimalist to boho. “My best pieces are tactile, timeless, and a little bit fun,” she says. After gaining popularity in the States, last year Catillaz had her first show in Japan.
“It was such an honor to be received in a country with such rich history of ceramic art,” she says. “But my most rewarding moments usually happen around the kiln—the scientific discoveries, the aesthetic breakthroughs and the wisdom and shared experience with other artists.”
Nashville-based potter Sarah Cihat’s pieces have evolved throughout the years. She started creating colorful and graphic dishware with a decidedly celestial slant, then moved onto more minimal hand-cast porcelain pieces with gold accents, then to black and white sets with a linear design.
Though varied, all her pieces have something in common. “The one thing I want is for my work to have a lasting, timeless quality,” she says. “And that you will keep it in your home and your family for a long time.” Mission accomplished.
Julie Cloutier’s stoneware pieces are for every day use, but they still feel like something special you’d want to break out and fill with olives and nuts at your next dinner party. The Northern California resident makes bowls and cups, but also a cheeky stoneware jigsaw puzzle and her latest venture, light fixtures. “My previous career was in architecture,” she says. “So thinking of my work architecturally and tackling lighting with my clay shapes has been so fun.”
Brooklyn-based potter, Natalie Weinberger, makes gorgeous yet functional stoneware vessels. “My aim is to make pots that have a sense of intrigue and quiet personality, while still retaining a practical use,” she tells us. Currently, she’s experimenting with new materials and riskier glazes, and has created a collection of stunning lamps.
Minami Takahashi’s work for Soto Ceramics reflects Japanese tradition, but with a contemporary twist. When asked about the most exciting moment of her career so far, she responded: “Does every time I open the kiln count? Honestly, the daily act of working with clay is the most satisfying part.”
She’s also collaborated with a handful of New York restaurants. “I love being able to work with a chef to bring something really meaningful to the dining room.”
It would be hard not to smile every time you open your cupboard if you were greeted with one of Recreation Center’s playful mugs or bowls. Josephine Noel, the potter behind the brand, wouldn’t have it any other way. “I like to take simple clean shapes and make them fun to look at — like a confetti party for your eyes,” she says. Her pieces are playful and reminiscent of the 1980s. And, if you want to really relive your childhood, Recreation Center makes stoneware lava lamps, too.
Osa Atoe makes pottery that would look lovely in a home or outside in a garden. She uses red clay for its color and earthy texture, and often glazes with turquoise, black and white accents. After living all across the United States, Atoe settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was happy, albeit a little surprised, to find such a nurturing artistic community for such a small city. “I’ve been a part Mid City Makers Market, an art market that started out with about ten makers a year ago and has blossomed to featuring over one hundred,”she says.