November 03, 2015

Handmade Pottery: Regaining the Connection between People

When was the last time you held a piece of artisan pottery in your hand? Do you remember how it felt – the weight, the texture, the earthiness of it all? Chances are that your mind not only contemplated its curves, glazing, and subtle imperfections, but its origins as well. You can’t help but wonder how a piece came into existence when you touch it. Stay in contact with it long enough and you can almost feel the emotions of the potter who shaped it, lovingly colored it, and kiln-fired it before letting it loose in the world.


It’s true. Pottery lovers have always understood that there is something deep and almost mystical about handcrafted items and their impact on both creator and user. Woodcrafts have that same appeal. You examine each piece, marveling at the attention to detail that the artisan mustered as he created an object that is and always will be completely unique. Knitted sweaters, handmade dresses and other apparel, and even custom leatherworks: they all have that same wonderful mystery about them that you can sense in pottery.


Part of that appeal has to do with these handmade creations’ ability to connect and bind people. You know this from your own experience. When someone makes something for you by hand, there is an undeniable connection formed in the instant custody is transferred to you. That’s why so many of our most beloved keepsakes are things that were made by loved ones: that ashtray your child made in grade school – despite the fact that you don’t smoke, that wooden toolbox or metal mailbox the kids made when they got a little older.


Handcrafted binds user and creator in ways that neither ever really understands. And when it comes to pottery, that effect is magnified by the sheer history involved in the craft. For thousands of years, the potter provided the dinnerware, pots, and other ceramic items society needed. His work was a staple of civilization in every culture, and across every span of time. Then the age of the machines came, and that previously unbroken connection between people was strained.


Strained, but not broken. Thankfully, the craft survived. Today, its revival is once again enabling homeowners to decorate their homes and fill their cupboards with the handcrafted pottery items that form these deep and powerfully connective societal bonds. You may even have some of them now. If so, then you no doubt understand just how meaningful they are, and how important that craftsmanship is for both creator and user.


Our Gaia collection is but one more strand in that web of connections between people all around the world and all throughout history. The machines have sway over much of the world, but there remain places where people still make things for people – with their own human hands and without the cold touch of the metallic steel that rules over the din of the mechanized factories. Pottery in all its glorious forms remains something that still binds mankind together, defiantly maintaining the connections that really matter: the ones between people.