Drawn from Clay by Atelier NL is a fascinating delve into the process of converting soil into usable pottery. As students Nadine Sterk & Lonny van Rijswijck, the pair behind Atelier NL, visited traditional workshops in Peru and Brazil where they saw artisans create vases from the earth around them. Taking this idea back home, they travelled around the Netherlands collecting natural clay and producing cups in  a variety of different colours and textures unique to the deposits. This work led the pair to being invited to continue their study by Jurgen Bey and Rianne Makkink on their farm in Noordoostpolder.


Working with local farmers they collected stories and buckets of clay from the parcels of land. “A bucket of soil is anonymous, but stories told by the farmer who works the soil gives the ground identity”

The result of their work is a range of tableware, a homage to the vegetables that were once cultivated in the earth from which they were produced.


Further work with Royal Tichelaar Makkum  has produced a  range of plates and bowls are available in six different types of local clay. Again the colour variations of the product are result of the chemical components of the clays used.


Baked by Formafantasma – Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin. The collection is not strictly speaking from the earth, but the materials used certainly are. Commissioned for an exhibition during Dutch Design Week  on the theme “Getting Lost” the duo went back to their Italian roots for inspiration.

“To get lost during a design process is a beautiful luxury – it means you can follow your intuition and curiosity without aiming for a clear result. For this project we looked back at our design “memorabilia”: ideas, pictures and techniques we left behind.”

The Sicilian folk festival Salemi features architectural decorations created from flour based material. Baked expands on this, using  natural ingredients; flour, coffee, cocoa and spinach combined with salt, shellac and spices. A complex mix they experimented with to create durable pieces.


On a more commercial tip JIA international have produced a range which also seeks to connect the the clay with the end use of the products. The range has been named after the clay that has been used. “Zisha”, also known as purple clay, is natural clay unique to China, found around Taihu in Jiangsu during the Northern Song Dynasty (1000-1200 A.D.). When fired, the purple clay assumes a fine and sandy JIA_Zisha_CoffeeSettexture that retains the temperature of the tea held inside longer than ordinary ceramics. Microscopic pores of Zisha absorb the fragrance of tea, keeping the tea’s freshness from spoiling. Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, tea connoisseurs have considered Zisha teapots indispensable.

For all things ceramics Slipcast -The Ceramics Blog is an excellent read.

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