3 tips to start a successful collection of handmade ceramics

Look around us, you will find that the handmade ceramics are having a moment. Everytime we browse on the internet or walk into a concept store, we find ourselves desiring every little handmade ceramic object we see. From tableware to decorative objects, its diversity is the best prove that the handmade ceramic market is booming at the moment.

That’s why more and more people start to collect these beautiful pieces. However, it is not always easy to choose THE one from all different kinds of styles and artists, and sometimes, you really need to know how and what is the best to buy for yourself.

Here are our 3 tips for you to start a successful collection of handmade ceramic objects.

Tip N.1 Do your homework before purchasing

Love at first sight is beautiful but it is impulsive.

When we started collecting handmade ceramics ten years ago, we could hardly tell the difference between handmade ceramics and industrial productions. We found every piece pretty ok and we wanted to buy them all (since we didn’t know which one is better).

The ability to see the nuance among glazes and forms doesn’t come in one day. It all depends on how your eyes have been trained. Have you already been to a gallery or a museum to touch the different glazes and textures with your own hands? Have you already gone to the website of the ceramist you like and take a deeper dive into his specialties and skills? Do you know how the objects which you have a crash on have been created - by modelling or by throwing? Have you already read some books or articles about ceramics or pottery?

We know that it sounds a lot like this but it doesn’t mean that you need to become an expert before starting your own ceramic collection. However, knowing a little is still better than knowing nothing. And if you want to improve your taste and make a meaningful ceramic or pottery collection, there is no better way – Like everything in this world, there is no shortcut and being lazy is not an option.

One day, you will find yourself really start appreciating some pieces more than others – maybe even without knowing how, you already find out that A is more sophisticated than B and its glaze is more refined.

That is the magic when you do your homework.

Tip N.2 Start from the objects you will use and be best in your budget

The biggest difference between collecting ceramics and other art objects is that ceramic is highly functional. Most of them can be used in our daily life: dishes plates, cups, mugs and vases…etc. Also, the entry level for new collectors is much easier on the pocket. Actually, the ceramic fine art market is still undervalued, which leaves us room to invest in. From a world-class maker you can buy a range of handmade ceramics for anywhere between 50 euros - 200 euros.

Talking about its accessibility, we need to mention the movement of the “Art of people”, which was developed in the late 1920s and 1930’s in Japan, by the founder Yanagi Sōetsu.

Yanagi Sōetsu discovered beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. According to Yanagi, utilitarian objects made by the common people are "beyond beauty and ugliness” and "There is no greater opportunity for appreciating beauty than through its use in our daily lives, no greater opportunity for coming into direct contact with the beautiful."

That’s why we suggest you to start appreciating handmade ceramics by using them. If you love cooking, collect some beautiful handmade plates; if you are a tea or coffee lover, why not just start with some very unique coffee/tea ceramic cups at relative low prices? When you start your collection, try to make it personal and relevant to yourself. Don’t waste your time in chasing the trends.

Ceramics is a warm material, the more you use it, the more you will appreciate and learn from it. And when you start with some small objects within your budget, you will feel less guilty, more comfortable and confident when it comes to purchasing bigger statement pieces to add to your ceramics collection.

Tip N.3 A PERFECT handmade ceramic does not exist

At some point of time, we have just to admit that a perfect handmade ceramic object does not exist. You are afraid of buying a wrong piece or investing in the wrong ceramist? We totally understand! Why risk money investing in something not perfect? You may ask. But the imperfections of handmade ceramics are just what make them touching and special.

One of our clients used to be disturbed when he saw the uneven glazes on a ceramic dish, I suggested him not to buy it, knowing that he won’t feel comfortable with; You will only start appreciating handmade ceramics when you can truly embrace and accept their “imperfections” - thanks to their imperfections, they are perfect.

Finally, do not be afraid of making errors: you may no more like some pieces you purchased years ago or want to replace them by some more important pieces – that is totally fine. In living with the work by different ceramists, you will end up in finding what is the most suitable for you: whose glazes fit more into your mood, whose handles are more adapted to your hands, or whose plates make your dishes looks more delicious.

In conclusion, I would say that collecting handmade ceramics is more than just collecting objects. It is a personal adventure, a self-discovery process and lots of unexpected encounters and surprises.

Like said the art collector Sylvian LEVY: “ Collecting is a way to make an ordinary person to have an extraordinary life”.

One day, you will notice the smooth shining glaze and the tiny rose drip on the surface of your mug. You feel so lucky that you found it; you know that you belong to it and it belongs to you.


©2018 by Galerie Tokyo.