You Need These New, Color-Blocked Goblets by Helen Levi

There’s a ceremonial feel to the latest collection from Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi. First, there are the goblets — a type of stemware more often associated with medieval banquets or religious rituals, to which Levi gives a resolutely modern look by color-blocking and employing a pristine matte finish. Second are the jugs, which might look as though they’d been excavated from a silty river bed were it not for the delicate palette, ranging from stony buff to rose pink. Taken together, they represent a marked departure from Levi’s typical wares, which are often marbled or doused in vivid glazes.

The idea to use a more muted, natural palette came about a few years ago when Levi noticed a picture of some bisqueware bottles she’d made for a whiskey company gaining traction on Pinterest and Instagram, and sparking emails inquiring about the pieces. To preserve the materiality of bisqueware but make it functional and watertight, Levi used tinted liquid clay slip — mixed in small batches in her studio — with a clear matte glaze on the inside of the pieces: “Bisqueware generally has soft, muted shades of pinkish and light brown,” says Levi. “I wanted to replicate the look and feel of that photo by tinting slip.” The subdued color palette s is arrived at through a lengthy process of trial and error; here’s a picture of a bisqued bowl alongside a finished bottle which illustrates the challenge of replicating that distinct bisqued quality. Levi says: “Often the colors I’m picturing in my head just don’t feel right when they’re fired, and I’ll tweak it until I just like how it’s landed”.

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