Artisanal ceramics are so ubiquitous these days that finding and purchasing a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece — whether a mug, vase, bowl or planter — is as easy as clicking around on Etsy.
Grayling Ceramics, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., differentiates itself by straying from the usual vessels. Sure, there are the obligatory coffee mugs and tumblers on offer, in appealingly imperfect shapes and with earthy glazes like slate and tan. But the boutique ceramics studio’s specialty? Handmade clay creations for beer enthusiasts, including 64-ounce growlers, 32-ounce howlers (or half growlers) and 16-ounce beer steins.
Located in a city that boasts several breweries, included nationally recognized Bell’s Brewery, Grayling’s focus makes sense. Ceramicist and sculptor Shay Church, who co-owns the business with his wife, Maura, has said that their beerware is intended to reflect the same thoughtfulness and attention to quality as craft brewers and other artisans display. And why shouldn’t a fine ale be sipped from an equally fine stein?
The custom stoneware growlers and howlers are individually slipcast - a process whereby liquid clay is poured into plaster molds - then trimmed on a potter’s wheel and glazed with colors inspired by Michigan summers: powder blue, mossy green. The bottoms are left unglazed, a Grayling signature, and some limited editions are decorated with sketches of natural imagery, such as a black bear or sturgeon.
In a video on Grayling’s Kickstarter page — the fundraising campaign was launched in fall 2014 and raised more than $20,000 — Shay said that Grayling embraces the nature and pulse of the Great Lakes region. Despite bearing a distinctly Midwestern stamp, this is pottery bound to appeal to beer lovers and homebrewers everywhere.
For ordering info, visit www.graylingceramics.com