Tips for Buying Handmade Ceramics with Jessie Lazar

The funny thing about collections is that they rarely ever begin on purpose! Years ago I started picking up handmade ceramics as travel souvenirs. Since then, I’ve amassed a veritable slew of them. I know I need to be more intentional about the new pieces I acquire—lest my home be overrun!—so I figured it was time to ask someone whose opinion I respect on the subject. And when it comes to ceramics, there’s no one I respect more than Jessie of Jessie Lazar Ceramics. The lines, proportions, and finishes of her pieces are simple yet so striking; and the mugs from her signature quail egg collection are a staple at my breakfast table. In fact, I’m such a fan of Jessie’s work that I even got a little starstruck when we recently connected on Instagram. But it turns out that her personality is as sweet as her work is gorgeous, and she was more than happy to share some of her tips for buying, gifting, and collecting handmade ceramics. Take it away, Jessie!

1. The most important thing to consider when buying and decorating with ceramics is function. Don’t save beauty for the once-­a-­year china cabinet! Choose items based on what you’ll use, then actually use them. Incorporating handmade pieces into your routine makes everything more special—like a morning coffee ritual with a beautiful mug you love, or a serving bowl you can’t wait to pull out every time a guest is at your table. I use this guideline when gifting a piece as well. Give what will compliment their life the most­. If they love to cook, how about a handmade mixing bowl set? Or if they’re into nice tea, a teapot is perfect. Fill their days with one-of-a-kind artisan work!

2­. Another big priority when buying ceramics for myself or as a gift is quality. Seek out work that was made with skill and attention to detail. Here’s an insider tip: When it comes to handmade pottery, check out the bottom to see how it was finished. This is where you get real insight into how much care was put into the making. Look for smooth edges and clean surfaces—otherwise your piece might­ scratch a wood table or marble counter! And always look for a signature to ensure the item in question was 100% handmade! As well, if you’re choosing something in person, feel it and hold it. Is that mug nice and cozy in your hands? Perfect!

3. When shopping handmade, get to the know the maker a little. You’re supporting their art and bringing their style into your home…maybe even starting a collection of their work! A connection to the artist will give your pieces that much more meaning. If you meet them in person, have a chat. If you’re buying in a shop or online, comment on their Instagram or visit their website­ see what they’re working on next. You’ll not only get an idea of what else you might want to add to your collection, you’ll appreciate the things you buy so much more—and you’ll make them so happy to hear that you’re enjoying what they create!

Thank you Jessie for sharing your expertise with us! I’m feeling inspired to set the table at my upcoming holiday party entirely with the ceramics currently gathering dust in my closet, and I’m already contemplating my next precious purchase from Jessie’s lineup. Peruse her wares at the Jessie Lazar Ceramics website and Jessie Lazar Instagram, and see them in action on the holiday table setting I styled using her mugs last winter. Happy collecting, everyone!