One of the biggest hurdles in the handmade pottery world is the price and perception of value. When you can walk into Next or M&S and buy a set of 4 mass produced mugs for £20, it can be hard to comprehend why you’d pay the same amount and more for a single handmade pottery mug. But there is so much more to handmade pottery than meets the eye.
We are slowly moving away from the throw-away culture we live in, with minimalism becoming a popular interiors trend and people practicing mindful spending. As a result, pottery and handmade items are becoming ever more popular and there is definitely a shift in mindset with consumers wanting more unique and bespoke items in their home and making more conscious decisions around what they spend their hard-earned cash on.
As handmade pottery converts, we wanted to explain the true value of handmade pottery and why we believe it is 100% worth the investment.
TOP 9 REASONS HANDMADE POTTERY IS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN CLAY
1. Functional Art
Handmade pottery is dual purpose – you are really getting bang for your buck as they say! Not only is it a marvel on the eyes but it’s also functional and serves a purpose. Take a beautiful handmade ceramic jug, it can be used as a vase with stunning flowers to form a centrepiece on a dining table, or for your morning juice or if you’re feeling practical, to water your much-loved house plants. The same just doesn’t apply to mass-produced, because no matter how much you like it, an Ikea jug cannot be described as art!
2. Handmade pottery is characterful and unique
The best thing about buying handmade pottery homeware is that it is completely unique, and it simply cannot be replicated by mass-manufacture. It is near on impossible even for a skilled potter to replicate exactly the same item. The Little Pot Company gives a great example of one of the variables that effect the final outcome of pottery: “Glazes on handmade mugs, especially ones fired in open flames usually have a much more varied character. The mug can be different colours on different sides depending on how the flame has travelled around it in the kiln.” Glazes are temperamental, kiln temperatures vary, clay isn’t always the same mix – the variables are endless.
So, what you end up with is something completely one-of-a-kind. No more, “I’ve got those too!”.
In contrast, mass-manufactured mugs do have an identical look about them because they use industrial glazes which are formulated to achieve that consistent finish and as result, they can look quite flat and they lack any sort of character. There’s nothing ‘grammable about an Ikea mug, but a stylish handmade mug is a completely different story!
3. Handmade pottery feels amazing
Possibly more importantly than the unique appearance of handmade pottery is the way it makes you feel! At this point, you might be thinking I have lost the plot but bear with me. It is a difficult sensation to convey in writing, but I am going to give it a go.
Handmade pottery, whether thrown on the wheel or built by hand, retains the texture of the clay even when it is glazed. Depending on the design, you can sometimes feel some gritty bits of the earthy clay under your fingers and thumbs when you touch it, which somehow creates the connection between you, the earth, and the product. Sometimes, you can still see where the item has been removed from the wheel and it retains the gorgeous rhythmic lines as a reminder of its handcrafted nature, and of the maker behind it. It feels weighty, which automatically conveys quality and, if we’re talking about a stylish handmade pottery mug, warm and full in your hands which conjures up a feeling of cosiness and comfort.
Equally, the time and effort that goes into decorating handmade pottery pays dividends, whether that is via combing or carving the clay or impressing the clay using fingertips or with a stamp, the texture and character that results feels amazing.
When compared to your £5 Wilko ceramic mug, there is just no competition.
4. Avoids unethical practices
As some mass-produced ceramics are so readily available at an incredibly low price point, consumers have forgotten to question how the store is able to sell at these “bargain” prices and make a profit.
There are legitimate concerns over the ethical credentials of some mass-produced ceramics made overseas. It shouldn’t be forgotten that sometimes, much like how sweat shops are utilised in the fashion industry, these “bargain” prices come at the price of poor working conditions and abysmal salaries for factory workers in developing countries. These unethical products have a knock-on effect for these countries’ economies and environments, preventing them from developing and often meaning countries like the UK send charitable and non-charitable loans to provide assistance – which is essentially paid by you via taxes. There is a far larger cost to these mass-produced products than the £4 RRP!
Of course, this isn’t the case for all ceramics imported from overseas as there are some good businesses that take care to source in an ethical way but buying handmade British pottery avoids this concern altogether.
5. Supports the UK economy and small businesses
With the current economic climate and the uncertainty following Covid and Brexit, buying from small independent businesses is incredibly important. Buying handmade goods from makers or from caring independent brands and businesses like Keeeps, means that revenue is put straight back into the UK economy.
6. Helps build connections
Ceramicist extraordinaire, Kara Leigh Ford explains perfectly how ceramics offer deep connections: “Connection to the form, connection to the glaze colours and, most importantly of all, connection to another human being - the maker. As social animals that is what we all crave on a human level - one-on-one connection. A mass-produced mug can never offer that” – and we totally agree.
And once you have a connection with the object, it can help create a real connection to your home, or the place where your much-loved handmade gem is located because every time you step into that place you consistently admire it, and it brings joy and happiness.
7. Protects artisan skills
As the Telegraph so eloquently put it, “Every time you buy British goods made by talented workers in this country, you are not just keeping British people in jobs but also helping to keep skills alive” Pottery has been around for centuries and is a skill therefore that has been passed down through many generations. It is essential that these skills are continued for generations to come.
As we seek more environmentally friendly ways of creating ceramics and move away from huge production lines in massive factories, our artisan makers will play an instrumental role in keeping ceramics alive.
Many of our lovely potters started out in pottery but struggled to make a career out of it, so pursued other avenues, later returning to their true love. Supporting potters on their handmade adventure is essential and will encourage the next generation of potters to pursue pottery as a legitimate career choice.
8. Longevity benefits the environment
The interior designer Miles Redd said, “Buy the best and only cry once”. In fact, why buy cheap items that you end up having to replace with what you should have bought in the first place!
A huge contributor to the throw-away culture is the ever-changing interior trends. These change so often these days that people become bored of their mass-made items and look to replace them every time their existing collection falls out of fashion. As already discussed, it is so much easier to form a connection with handmade pottery and because it is so unique, you just won’t feel that need to replace with the latest fad, saving you £££s in the long run!
9. The perfect gift to show you care
Finally, a lot of thought goes into handmade pottery. Of course, it is made by someone who adores their craft and therefore lots of love and positive vibes are put into creating their ceramics.
Treating your loved one to a handmade pottery gift portrays that same thought. The fact that you’ve chosen that particular vase, or those particular mugs, picking something completely one-of-a-kind is something really special and guaranteed to make your person smile and think of you every time they use it.
So, remember, whilst handmade can have a higher initial price tag than mass-manufacture, you get a lot more for your money than just a piece of homeware - it will make you feel good inside, and you support artisan skills, local businesses and the environment. Take a browse on our store, and pick a little something you like, and you’ll soon see what we’re talking about!
The proof is in the pottery!