The dictionary defines artisanal as “relating to or characteristic of an artisan” and “a product made in a traditional or non-mechanized way.” A particular type of product we offer, artisanal ceramic accessories and table lamps, are exemplars of this definition. The pieces featured in this post were handmade of stoneware by women artisans living at the border of Burma and Thailand, and you can see from each one of them that the intricate surfaces with their incredible dimensional textures is a true work of art.
Artisanal Ceramic Accessories and Lamps
In his book Ceramics from the Thai-Burma Border, Sumitr Pitiphat explores the history of ceramics in North Central Thailand, dating the artform in the region as far back as a thousand years. Translated and edited by Roxanna Brown, the study of ceramic pieces from the northwest of Thailand along the Burma border provides an archaeological account of kiln sites in the region and artefacts found in burial sites, as well as a catalog of the numerous ceramics found there. As the artisanal ceramic accessories and lamps in this post illustrate, remarkable skills at creating unique ceramic pieces is alive and well today. Here are our new Fall introductions that shine a light on the handicraft.
As Jean-Charles Chappuis, who assists Brownlee Currey in identifying where to buy finely handcrafted pieces in Asia, explained in this previous post, Currey & Company is concentrating on sourcing from true artisans to safeguard the techniques they employ when they create time-honoured pieces.
“We feel that preserving the world heritage is one of the most important things we can do as a home furnishings company,” he says. “We are buying the wonderful ceramic productions from Asia not because of how they are priced but because this is the last frontier of the world of handicrafts. Considering this is one of the few places artisanal wares of this calibre can still be found today, we made the decision to put aside all political considerations and economical calculations, and focus on our love for the craftsmen.”
The Waikiki Large and Medium Blue Pineapples, which are just as representative of symbolic hospitality on the Hawaiian shores as they are in 1940s Miami décor, are exemplars of the artisanal ceramic accessories we have just introduced. Place this powdery blue and white ceramic sculpture prominently in a room to make a bold statement. We also offer the tabletop sculptures in green.
The Sea Urchin Moss Green Vase is made of black terracotta vase with a moss green reactive glaze and extrusions, each applied by hand to the side of the vase, that mimic a sea urchin’s profile. This green vase is truly an artisanal piece, as the surface has a mottled look that gives the impression it has spent time under water. We also offer the Sea Urchin as a lamp.
Jean-Charles notes how serious an effort it is for our company to support the artisans who still exist today: “If we approach sourcing with our hearts in the right place, we become a part of a big family that exists in a world with no borders. In this world, we are playing the historical role of the merchant who ensures that the arts and crafts will continue to be brought forward.” The Staghorn Coral Table Lamp illustrates this; it is a powerfully textured tan lamp with appendages that mimic the profile of staghorn coral flowing up its columnar body. Each piece is made of ceramic and affixed by hand, the shaping a painstaking process in order to mimic the lamp’s namesake the lives in the sea. The body of the lamp is then finished in Sunken White.
The Sunken Boat Vases shown above are made of black terracotta with a moss white glazing covering them. There are intentional pits in the glazing, which makes the ivory vases feel as if they have been reclaimed from a sunken boat after having spent years in the deep sea. All ruffles on these vases are done by hand in the pinch method, which is a painstaking process. We also offer the vases in green.
The variety of the surfaces we’ve shown so far illustrate how varied the designs that are created by the artisans are. Case in point is the Jessamine vase and table lamp (shown above and below) that are covered with hand-made flowers. On the Jessamine White Vase, rather than apply one type of bloom, a number of floral shapes are intermingled to give the white decorative accessory a charm that is heightened by the top edge that undulates. The handmade character of the piece comes from the fact that each flower is created individually and applied, one-by-one, by hand. This is also the case with the Jessamine Table Lamp.
Jean-Charles says of these pieces, “The first time I saw this work on a vase, I loved that Happy-Hippie time flavor. The process is very time-consuming, as first you have to make a ceramic body; then another worker cuts each of the little flowers. At this point, they are flat. It is when they are applied, one-by-one, to the body that the person placing them gives them a little curvature. The result is astonishing, and each piece will be different just by the way the little flowers are applied to the ceramic body, though of course not so different that they don’t read as similar from piece to piece.”
The Manitapi White Vase is another of our artisanal ceramic accessories made from black terracotta. This incredible hand-thrown white vase is completely covered in handmade bell-shaped flowers. Once the blossoms are in place, the vase is glazed with a crisp white. We offer the Manitapi in two sizes in a dark blue.
The Cynara Table Lamp is a lovely oversized white lamp shaped like an artichoke. Each leaf, or bract as they are called with the real plant, is made of ceramic and affixed by hand, the shaping a painstaking process in order to mimic the lamp’s edible namesake. The body of the Cynara is then finished in a soft antique white.
The Milos Blue Vase is another of our artisanal ceramic accessories made from black terracotta. The incredible hand-thrown dark blue vase has a swirled surface that looks like brain coral. The vase is glazed in a rich deep reactive blue and it is fully glazed on the inside. We also offer the Milos as a table lamp, shown below.
As Artisanal as Things Come
Supporting artisans who have cultivated so much skill and finesse is truly a source of pride for us. If you haven’t studied these incredible artisanal ceramic accessories and lamps in our showrooms, take the time to truly look at them the next time you visit. Each design is so unique and the authenticity created is remarkable.