The term "studio ceramics" can be a nebulous term and is sometimes used to imbue clarity of provenance to a piece of work which is otherwise a mystery. Admittedly, I have used the term many times myself.
In its most basic sense, the term "studio ceramics" differentiates those pieces which are made in a small-scale workshop—usually by hand—as opposed to "production" pieces which were made in a "mass-produced" factory environment. The term "studio" implies a more artful, thoughtful, careful and rare piece—although aesthetics and quality are always in the eye of the beholder. Most often, the term "studio vase" is used when the merchant or collector does not know the name of the ceramicist. If he did, he would quickly drop the term "studio" and replace it with the artist's name!
I try to buy with my eye, not my brain; if I like something, and I think I can re-sell it, I will acquire it. This applies to all antiques, including ceramics. Over time, as I have developed more experience buying ceramics, I find myself more willing to "take a chance" on the unknown—based simply on its craftsmanship, quality and artistry. Often the piece is signed, distinctly or indistinctly, yet still I do not recognize the maker or country of origin. But I do, however, usually recognize the quality or uniqueness of the piece. And, with this in mind, I make the acquisition.
The piece above, (probably) made in Europe in the 1960's, has a wonderful blue microcrystalline glaze, combined with gunmetal highlights. It dresses a heavy stoneware form, clearly hand-thrown. It has all the hallmarks of a small-scale ceramics studio—and, most importantly, I find it beautiful. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.
LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed. While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
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