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Beginner Luck

November 27, 2010


From clay

In basic ceramic classes, students learn to manipulate clay by pinching, pulling and rolling it — then pasting it to itself to create vessels. Not refined, graceful vases and bowls, but rather lumpy, sagging, inadvertently bizarre ones. Glazed, these novice pieces are brought home … sometimes given as gifts … eventually ending up at garage sales and flea markets. I love finding these lumpy-humble clay experiments and never hesitate to buy them (they rarely cost more than a buck or two). Beside their forms, I love the often simple-colored glazes their creators have finished them with. Rustic, organic and unmistakenly handmade, they make great vases for cut succulent arrangements. I came across these during my recent sale (from the top, clockwise): A white-glazed, multi-spouted vase, with appliquéd circular cut-outs on its surface, looks great with a coral-like succulent. Next; taupe glazed, and appliquéd with blobby shapes and the slogan ‘enjoy coke’, this cup-like vase sprouts a trailing specimen. At bottom, a coiled pot is glazed drippily in contrasting colors, and complemented by green bean-lookalike sprigs. Lastly, a wide-mouthed, free-form coiled pot has a psychedelic faux-bois effect. It’s well-served by a textured glaze; a huge aeonium rests stylishly in its shallow bowl.

Other materials

There’s only one hand-built ceramic vase in this picture but it’s a standout. Irregular slabs have been used to create a tall cylinder that’s remarkably heavy because of thick walls. But, what really makes this piece a keeper is its multiple glaze colors. I count three, and they’re pretty amazing: a dull yellow, followed by a jaunty orange and finished in a shiny turquoise. I treasure this piece for its texture and for the way its colors show through each other and interact. For the fun of it, other unusual vases and objéts, join the party: A cement, basket-shaped bowl, with steel handle and aeonium; two pale matte spheres with simple openings and mini-cactus-look succulent sprigs; some rosy river rocks and a faceted stone carving. All look terrific in the company of wood. Finding ceramic pieces like these is always a surprise; they’re rarely the piece seller’s put out front and center. But seeing one peeking out of a box, or behind something else, always gives me that lucky collector’s charge … and for virtually nothing!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2010 7:28 am


    Great post.

    the coral-like succulent is Euphorbia leucodendron.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      November 27, 2010 5:16 pm

      Thanks, Dustin … not sure why, but your comment went into my spam folder

  2. November 27, 2010 9:05 am

    Magnifique !

  3. November 28, 2010 6:19 am

    Where did you get your stone gem? I want to make a latex mold of it! Seriously.


    • reubix1 permalink*
      November 28, 2010 6:23 am

      Gawd knows where I got that thing from … it’s pretty banged up at this point; I think it’s actually an old paperweight …

  4. Megan permalink
    November 30, 2010 4:33 am

    Love them! I still have a little clay dinosaur I made when I was in first grade art class. Your post makes we want to take a ceramics class to make weird succulent containers.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      November 30, 2010 4:39 am

      You should! I know I’d buy some …

  5. lagunawriter permalink
    December 22, 2010 5:30 am

    you are SO smart! buying those chunky coil experiments! who hasn’t made one of those! i’m going to start collecting them, too! (sorry, i’m a shameless copy cat, especially when the ideas are brilliant!)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      December 22, 2010 6:45 am

      Thanks, for the compliment… and thanks for commenting! There’s gorgeousness on your site as well …

  6. June 9, 2011 6:46 am

    I have always loved these as well! A few weeks ago I found one in pink and I regret not buying it!!! They have such a sweetness to them.

    I love the site, if you get a chance please check out my blog at

    Thank you!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 9, 2011 12:17 pm

      Hi, Luke … sorry you passed on the pink — I definitely will check out your blog and thanks for the comment/compliment…. welcome!

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