Artistry, concentration, and the hand all contribute to the remarkable objects we turn out at our pottery workshop everyday. The challenge of building things from the ground up, with earthy clay takes a blend of virtuosity, muscle memory and a keen eye to what looks balanced and well proportioned.
Our latest artistic creation from the pottery is our Beachstone collection. The inspiration comes from the natural elements here in Vermont. Along the shore of Lake Champlain, particularity in the area of Shelburne farms, there are beach stones and rock formations that are made of 450-million-year-old, Iberville Shale.
The stones have beautiful graphic striations and veins of the mineral calcite, that inspired the sedimentary effects we wanted to capture in our clay. By experimenting with different colors of clay pushed together; we created the effect we wanted to achieve.
Jeff, our master potter, has a great deal of experience with unique techniques and has perfected marbling the clay and throwing forms on the Potter’s wheel that reveal the graphic striated layers of clay.
The Bristol Collection originates from studying the “Golden Section” Proportions found in nature. Yet, no matter how refined the design or how forward-looking the concept, hand-crafting is required.
For the Bristol Collection, James Murray, Simon Pearce’s VP of Design, began with ideas for a flute and a tumbler that he carefully rendered on paper. After making numerous revisions, the process of manufacturing began, which required blowing, shaping, sculpting, cutting, trimming, molding, and cooling in our workshops, of Vermont and Maryland.
“For the Bristol Collection, we use old-world techniques and real, basic tools to make something that is decidedly modern,” says James.
Bristol Flute & Tumbler Sketch
Bristol Caviar Sketch
Visitors to our workshops can witness the process.
In a Parisian pottery factory of the late 1800’s, two chemists made a mistake, causing colorful glaze crystals to form on the outside of their pots. The results were, at once, striking and hard to control. The potters at Simon Pearce have revisited this technique to create one of a kind, decorative vessels.
The time intensive and expensive process fell out of favor with the large pottery factories, but in the 1920’s, a resurgence in the production of this glaze technique occurred (due to independent potters setting up their own studios and producing pottery separate from large production).
Matt McFarland developed the glazes and the technique to allow the glazes to run down the entire ceramic form. The crystals are formed by a combination of added ingredients (mostly zinc oxide and silica) to float around on the glaze and cool slowly. The size of the crystals is determined by how long the minerals remain on the molasses-like glaze before it drops in temperature.
Only some shapes will adequately “hold” this type of glaze. The shape needs to orient itself in a way so, when the glaze is applied to the top rim of the vessel, the crystals form at the desired place on the piece. For this reason, many of the vessels are bulbous (that Mike Trempe throws), with a very narrow neck. Historically, this is known to create the most dramatic and aesthetically pleasing results.
Matt McFarland was instrumental in the first full line of crystalline products being launched at Simon Pearce, in the Spring of 2014. The introduction of these pieces brought a sparkle of color into the company owned stores. Today, the Simon Pearce crystalline assortment includes over a dozen different shapes in five different colors.
The story of crystalline is the story of how research into the history of the medium can inspire masters to create a new standard of excellence.
Functionality and beauty have always been the core criteria of Simon’s design philosophy. The Belmont collection has stood the test of time, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It is a unique style of dinnerware that bridges the gap between a classic and causal aesthetic, that remains true to our brand heritage.
It’s origins are from a passion for hand thrown pottery. A blend of earthy materials and old world process that are also known for their durability. The central swirl motif on the plates accentuates the centrifugal movement of how the pieces are thrown on the wheel.
Crackle glazes are enjoying a resurgence of interest, particularly with younger customers that appreciate handcrafted excellence, and want to personalize their tabletop with a mix and match of pottery. Belmont comes in two crackle finishes, ivory and celadon, that work great together when layered in a place-setting.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary, we launched a new Centerpiece Bowlmagnificently scaled as both a functional and decorative piece. The voluminous bowls express the simple richness of the Belmont pottery.