Colm De Ris : Handcrafted Fine Irish Pottery

SGS Blog Post Colm De Ris feat img

Colm De Rís: Handcrafted Fine Irish Pottery

One of the most talented modern Irish craftsmen is surely Colm De Ris from Dublin. His iconic Irish handmade pottery is instantly recognisable. Every single piece is individually made, decorated and fired by hand here in Ireland. Many people are already building their own unique art collection of his beautiful work.

Skellig Gift Store is proud to stock an extensive selection of Colm De Ris fine Irish pottery. Are you looking for something to complement your existing collection? Or are new to his work? You can choose from over 50 distinctive pieces right here!

(Remember, our shipping is free, worldwide.)

Aren’t the colours, shapes and patterns so reminiscent of the Irish landscape? Colm’s ceramics make the perfect gift: something original, beautiful, functional and meaningful. Already these pieces are becoming heirlooms in families worldwide. No doubt they will be sought-after collector’s items in the future, too!

It’s always interesting to find out more about Irish artisans, so let’s take a closer look at Colm De Ris Pottery.

Who is Colm De Rís?

sgs Colm De Ris headshotFirst of all, what do we know about the man himself? Colm is a Dubliner, born in 1969. His passion for pottery begins when he is just 10 years old. Young Colm spends his summer breaks at Mrs. Carroll’s Pine Forest, a children’s Art Centre in the Dublin Mountains. Here, he discovers a passion, and a real talent, for creating with clay.

Fast forward to his early adulthood, where he lives in Switzerland for two years studying Hotel Management. Next, he spends the subsequent two years sailing the seas as a catering manager on the famous QE2 cruise ship.

In 1993 he returns to Dublin, still feeling nostalgic about the childhood summers he spent at the potter’s wheel. Luckily for us, he decides it’s time to return to his creative calling. He fondly calls this “my destiny with clay”. Colm chooses ceramics as his career and embarks on a mission to hone his skills as a working Irish potter.

Colm’s Ceramics Career

Learning His Craft With The Best

Reading Colm De Ris’ CV is truly like a who’s who of Irish Ceramics! Henry Pim, the former Lecturer in Ceramics at the National College of Art and Design, encourages Colm to follow his dreams.  A year at Grennan Mill in Thomastown, Kilkenny, gives Colm the opportunity to study under Gus Mabelson. Gus is a specialist in stoneware glaze, and still manages and runs the highly regarded Ceramic Design and Skills Course for the Crafts Council of Ireland today.

While developing his own style and techniques, Colm goes on to work with respected and established potteries around Ireland.  Here in County Kerry, Colm serves his time with Bob Hollis and Emma Almeria, just 10km away from Skellig Gift Store! In County Wicklow, he learns his craft with the master potter Geoffrey Healy, too.

sgs Colm De Ris Triskele Stamp

Colm De Ris Means Business!

Colm’s training and experience set him up perfectly for the next stage of his career in ceramics. In 1996, he launches his own business in the Irish capital – his home town of Dublin. Ever since then, he has been continually developing his techniques, style and range.

A real challenge for Colm comes one November morning in 2002. He finds that his factory has burned to the ground! At the time he is employing eight staff and his order books are full. This tragedy may have caused others to give up, but not Colm De Ris.  He determinedly gets back to business.

Introducing his work to a wider audience

RTE Craft Master Colm De RisMost of all, Colm continues to focus on growing his business and opening up the export market for his work. He has several successful trips to the USA, where he appears on QVC’s popular Irish specials. His limited-edition pieces sell out, and the forums are filled with enthusiastic new collectors.

Back in Ireland, Colm exhibits his work at trade shows and expo’s. Furthermore, he gains many new fans when he appears as an expert mentor on RTE’s national broadcast of the “Craftmaster”. This arts-apprentice-type series hit the screens in 2011.

Throughout his career, Colm has always been a regular on Dublin’s street-market scene. Maybe you’re going to visit Dublin some weekend soon? You might be lucky enough to meet him in the People’s Park Market, or at another event.

So, what’s so special about Colm’s work? Let’s find out more…

Inspired in Ireland, and by Ireland

People of all ages admire Colm De Ris pottery. It seems to embody Ireland itself, and everyone who handles a piece finds beauty in his skilful craftmanship. Turning any piece in the light reveals an almost 3D landscape of colour when you look at it closely. But what inspires the man himself?

The striking curves and vivid colours of Colm’s designs draw influence from the pristine ocean coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way. He particularly credits the South and West coasts, and the rich wild landscape of the peat-bogs. Colm says there are “40 shades of green” in his Emerald glaze, echoing the changing colours of the Atlantic Ocean between Ireland and North America!

The Triskele Symbol

Colm’s work also incorporates the legends and symbols found in Old Irish and Celtic mythology. Especially relevant is that Colm considers Ireland’s Newgrange Monument to be “the ultimate form of megalithic art”. (You can find out more about this UNESCO World Heritage site here)

sgs colm de ris newgrange bowl

Consequently, it is no surprise to see him use the triple-spiral “Triskele” emblem in his designs. This 5000-year-old Neolithic glyph represents a familiar Irish / Celtic theme of the “triple-aspect”. This is an early energetic icon of the Maiden, Mother and Grandmother. It later represents the Holy Trinity in Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You can find a unique Triskele imprint medallion on every example of Colm’s work. Colour crystallises into the grooves of the spirals during firing, so each symbol appears to be slightly different. This ancient, powerful symbol looks so striking on every piece, and represents the continuity of life and love!

Cherished Memories, Every Day

Despite these romantic Irish influences, it’s still hugely important to Colm that each object has purpose and utility. His aim is to create “beautiful, functional forms that will be part of many chats and cherished memories.”

sgs Colm De Ris Raw

They are all unique, practical, beautiful and functional! You can display them as an art piece or use them at your table every day.

We agree with Colm that “anyone who works in ceramics ultimately has their own soul reflected in their work” So how do all of these influences manifest in his style?

Emerging From The Fusion Of Nature And Fire

“Clay, flame and glazes” are Colm’s canvas. He always finds it exciting to create dynamic, fluid shapes to enhance and compliment those energies all fusing together in his kiln. Watch this beautifully made video for a little glimpse into the private world of Colm De Ris Pottery. We love it!

Now you’ve seen him in action, you begin to understand why every piece is unique!

“Unique As A Snowflake”

In a time of mass-production, we don’t see the details in many of the homogenous factory-made items around us. Cheap tableware is functional, but the form is often uninspiring. This is where Colm De Ris takes the opposite approach.

All of his work is hand-thrown or hand-built. He uses four different techniques for making his pottery: the wheel, slip-casting, hand-building and extruding. Every piece of Colm De Ris pottery is individually handmade, uniquely decorated and fired here in Ireland. This process spans a minimum of two weeks from start to finish. You just can’t rush the good stuff!

Colm De Ris at the wheel

 

Most noteworthy is the fact that every single piece looks unique as a snowflake because they truly are individual. No two pieces can ever be the same. Colm describes this “like brother and sister…but not identical twins!”

Colm De Ris Colour Palette

We know now that the Irish landscape inspires Colm. How does that play out in the colours he creates?

Colm De Ris GlazeColm’s signature colour-glaze techniques have been in development over a very long time, he says. His current work always features a high-lustre reflective crystalline glaze. Cerulean blues, jades, and peat-bog browns are shot with splashes of copper and highlighted by sprinkles of effervescent white.

Firing the Glaze

Technically, Colm’s work uses the energy of a reduction atmosphere with rutiles, coppers and iron. They all fuse together in his industrial gas kiln, giving his pottery an unpredictable and very shiny high-gloss finish.  These deep reds, rich blues and emerald green colours stay crisp, yet fluid, with an incredible depth to the layering. The spiralling details and sweeping shapes throughout his stoneware create that modern, Celtic feel.

sgs Colm De Ris KilnEven the force of nature determines the final colours of Colm’s signature glaze from the kiln. Especially relevant is how he fires his stoneware to porcelain temperatures of 1300 o Celsius. In addition to the aesthetic beauty of the finish, this technique also has a practical advantage. It ensures that your Colm De Ris original tableware is safe to use in the oven, microwave and dishwasher. 

Since this reflective glaze is such a striking feature of his work, your pieces will look amazing under a feature spotlight.  Like all good works of art, each one is an original!

“The Brilliance of the Unexpected”.

Whenever he’s explaining his imaginative technique, Colm shares his experience as “The Brilliance of the Unexpected”.

From his 3,500 sq ft studio in Dublin, he describes the “magical alchemy” that the raw clay goes through during each stage of his production process:

“Throwing it on the wheel, letting it dry, firing, decorating and firing again. Every week having that experience of opening the kiln door. It’s like Christmas Morning, you never know what’s going to be inside. And sometimes it’s just amazing, and sometimes it’s quite painful, but it’s always, always exciting. “

His results depend a lot on the dynamic conditions of each individual day in his workshop. Do you know that different weather can create varying effects on a glaze? Whether it is snowing, sunny, raining, or dry, the Irish weather creates a specific atmosphere. This, in turn, creates different levels of oxidisation or intensity in the colours of the glaze.

Ultimately, Ireland’s weather, and nature itself, have the final say in each Colm De Ris design!

Colm The Calm Ceramicist

Individuality echoes throughout Colm De Ris pottery. As we can see, he seems to thrive on the unpredictability of never knowing the ultimate outcome of his work!

In a short interview with an Irish newspaper some years back, Colm is asked about his greatest regret, and life lessons. He enigmatically replies:

I’ve learned from all my experiences – good and bad, successes and mistakes… Stay calm, it’s never as bad as you think.”

Seems like that’s a good philosophy in Colm’s line of work! We love this pic from Colm’s Facebook page ….

sgs 3 amigos blend Colm De Ris

The Promise of a Unique and Organic gift.

Each Colm De Ris design captures the spirit of Ireland. Each piece echoes the way it is formed, you can even see the grooves the hand and fingers have made when shaping the clay on the potter’s wheel.

You can find yourself examining every tiny detail of your Colm de Ris piece. Listen to the bell-like “ding” you hear when flicking the underside of a bowl. Each has its own individual tone, depending on the different thickness of the clay wall when thrown on the wheel.

Turn the stoneware in a beam of light to reveal the layers of colour in the final finish, it is mesmerising!  Colm thinks that “every piece is special because each piece is totally unique, hand painted, a one-of-a-kind. You’ll never get two pots the same.”

sgs Colm De Ris Kiln Fire

At Skellig Gift store, we agree. Our visitors and customers do too!

Our Colm De Ris collection encompasses style, functionality and a vestige of Ireland’s mythical landscape and history. They’ll make a beautiful addition to your special tableware. They’re also perfect Irish art pieces for the home.

The Colm De Rís Collection at Skellig Gift Store

In conclusion, Skellig Gift Store is proud to offer you a wide range of original Colm De Ris fine Irish pottery. We have many unique and elegant pieces for your dining table, all handmade in Dublin, Ireland. Furthermore, we will ship to you, worldwide, for free!

Are you building a personal collection? So are we! We currently stock over 50 individual designs in blues, greens and browns. We’ve a full collection of tableware, as well of some of Colm’s most memorable centre-pieces:

  • The dramatic swooping teapot designs, with their delicate loop lids, are available in both the green and blue colourways.

Colm De Ris Teapots

  • The sturdy, rustic Keltisch Krug is ideal for Beerfest toasts and Game of Thrones banquets! Add the Viking dish for your nibbles and snacks.

Colm De Ris Keltic Krug Viking Bowl

People seem to especially love the famous Colm De Ris cake-stand and utensil pots. Both are signature pieces and multifunctional. Customers use theirs with great imagination!

Colm De Ris Cake Stand and Utensil Pot

  • The utensil holder makes a stylish wine cooler for your table. It’s colours also work perfectly for holding a spring bouquet.
  • Use the cake stand as a centrepiece with fresh strawberries and chocolate dip in a mini-bowl. Flip it over and use it as a statement vase with trailing flowers and ivy tumbling over the edge!

Remember we offer free shipping worldwide with all online orders.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our introduction to Colm De Ris Pottery.

Finally, we’d like to thank Colm for supplying us with his gorgeous collection. At Skellig Gift Store, we’ve a long tradition of supporting Irish arts and crafts so we’ve always been following his work. Our customers love it!

We also welcome visitors to our Waterville store in County Kerry. This is your chance to see the full Colm De Ris range up close. Travelling on the Wild Atlantic Way? Don’t worry about getting it home safely. We’ll ship it worldwide for free!

In conclusion, we love to hear what you like best about Colm De Ris Pottery. Do you own a piece yourself? Do you use it, display it, or both?

Share with us on facebook and twitter, or talk to us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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