Buying, owning and using ceramics is an experience that can change your life.
Whether it’s eating food from beautiful plates or seeing a wood-fired vase on your windowsill, the recurring pleasure and contentment a handmade pot can bring every day is unmatched.
If you’ve ever seen our beautiful ceramics online or in our gallery and wondered where or how to start your collection, here’s a little introduction to help point you in the right direction.
a delicate wood-fired guinomi by British potter Nic Collins
1. Buy Something Small
If you’re buying art for the first time, the single most intimidating thing is the price. When the thought of bills and bank statements weigh down on your head, it can be difficult to justify making that first purchase.
One of the best things about buying pots is that the entry level for new collectors is much, much easier on the pocket. From a world-class maker you can buy a huge range of handmade pieces for anywhere between £15 – £150.
two typical mugs by British potter Mike Dodd, one (left) with a porphyry and ash glaze, the other (right) with just ash
You won’t feel quite so guilty about pulling the trigger on a £20 cup or a £60 dish. And as you get to know your smaller pots better and catch the collecting bug, you’ll feel much more clued-up, comfortable and confident about what you like when it comes to picking out bigger statement pieces to add to your ceramics collection.
a stunning oval dish for oven baking or serving by Danish potter Anne Mette Hjortshøj
2. Buy Something Functional
Almost every pot we have ever stocked at Goldmark has been functional, and a very large proportion of them domestic wares: mugs and jugs, lidded jars, breakfast bowls and many, many others.
There’s a reason for that. When you buy a piece of functional pottery you are buying something that becomes a part of your daily routines, that offers an instant return on the money you gave up for it and an immediate connection with you as you use it.
Functional pots enrich our lives, bringing a little beauty into daily activities like making a cup of tea or dishing up dinner. Make your first ceramics purchases something you will use every day and they might just change the way you live.
salt glaze tea set by Anne Mette Hjortshøj
3. Buy Something by Another Potter
When you find something you like, it can be hard to branch out; why risk investing in something new when you know what you already enjoy?
We know that feeling (you wouldn’t believe how many of us at the gallery have said they could live just with pots made by our Danish potter Anne Mette Hjortshøj). It’s tempting when you’re starting a collection to stick to what you like and know.
But if you can, try making your second or third purchase something by another potter: if you’ve bought a slipware dish, try an ash-glazed mug; follow a porcelain box with a shino jar.
Living with and using work by different potters will mean you end up finding and loving things in your pots you might never have noticed, and you’ll quickly hone your eye for future purchases (you’d be surprised how well different pots sit side by side on a table or shelf).
It’s also a great way to start finding out what forms of each potter work best for you – whose handles fit your hand, whose glazes feel just right, or whose cups you just can’t put down.
morning coffee and croissants with a Jean Nicolas Gérard beaker and long dish
4. Use It!
This is probably the most important point of all when buying a new pot and the one we stress most to new customers.
Whether you end up becoming a discerning ceramics collector or never buy a pot again, use your pots. The more you do, the more you’ll see and appreciate in their surfaces – that slight blush of orange, that tiny blue drip – and the more joy you will get out of something that has been made by a hand for a hand, not just churned out of a machine.
a Provencal lunch at Jean Nicolas Gérard’s gite in Valensole
At the gallery we’ve been using hand-thrown pots to serve and eat our communal lunch for years and it makes every meal here feel that bit more special. Good food looks better on good pottery; like tea from your favourite mug, it tastes better too.