Top 5 Reasons to Use Handmade Ceramics
Ceramics are everywhere these days. You’ll notice them displayed at trendy, chic boutiques arranged artfully in windows. Restaurants are serving curated dishes on handmade ceramic dinnerware. The pendulum has swung back to a more rustic, nostalgic feel in opposition to the cold stainless steel and industrial obsession that has been in vogue for the past decade.
Dinnerware is the foundation of your dining table and can be much more than plates and bowls for serving food. Beautiful ceramic dinnerware complements your meals, sets the tone for your at-home dining experiences and expresses your personal style. From formal settings for elegant dinner parties to casual pieces for everyday use, handmade ceramics set a beautiful tone in your home.
Ceramics evoke a sentimental feel as well. Hands down your parents owned some of these dishes and you grew up with them at your house. Ceramics are in vogue, but there are environmental and functional reasons to use handmade dinnerware at your house. Other than being aesthetically pleasing, hand-painted dinnerware is made from nontoxic paints and completely sealed for your protection. It makes it very durable and easy to care for over the years.
Here are the top reasons to purchase handmade ceramics.
1. Ceramics Retain Heat Better
The first reason to choose this dinnerware over another type is that ceramic keeps your food hotter for longer. Ceramic loses heat at a slower rate than other types of material in that ceramic is more porous, meaning conduction occurs slower in ceramic mugs. Conduction is a loss of heat through the direct contact of two materials, one of which is cooler than the other. The little air pockets that develop in the pores of the ceramic act as heat insulation, slowing the process of conduction.
But conduction isn’t the only thing contributing to a cold drink – convection also plays a role. Convection is a loss of heat through the air. Once the dinnerware initially warms up, it will lose heat through convection. In turn, this causes it to draw more heat from the food via conduction. Ceramic has a higher specific heat than other dinnerware material, which means ceramic will lose heat through convection at a slightly slower pace than other items. With a ceramic, heat loss through convection should occur slower than it would through dinnerware of the same shape and size. Simply put, your food will stay warmer with ceramic dinnerware.
2. Food Tastes Better
As with every food item we consume, there is a certain perception when it comes to quality standards. The vehicle we use to consume it can make our food taste better. The weight, texture, comfort and overall aesthetic of dinnerware contribute to the taste of the food – and there’s no other container that fits as perfectly as a ceramic plate or bowl. There are studies that prove food is “perceived” to taste better if it is presented on a beautiful piece of dinnerware. It’s all about aesthetics and a beautifully crafted piece of ceramic can surely make your mother’s recipe for eggplant parmesan taste that much better. “We eat with our eyes first” and this can truly be said while serving your favorite dish on a beautiful ceramic piece.
Despite the energy needed to fire a kiln for ceramic dinnerware, if the heat is well managed and distributed, and if no toxic materials are added to the clay or in the finish, it seems there are few materials around that are as durable and eco-friendly as ceramics. These can be loved not only for their eco-credentials but because of the infinite variety of shape, form, and texture they can take on, reflecting the potential beauty of what happens when natural materials are transformed by human creativity.
On the other hand, when it does break down, ceramic is more benign to the environment than, say, plastic, and the toxic ingredients in glazes are being phased out by in most countries–lead in particular is pretty hard to find in pottery in most developed countries. There is also a wide variety of beautiful, non-toxic glazes available too.
Another interesting point is that ceramic doesn’t weigh as much as other materials, like glass or porcelain, meaning they’re lighter. When shipping large amounts of ceramics, the tiniest fraction of an ounce between weights can add up to increase shipping resources. Gas for trucks and ships, extra manpower, and additional boxes all contribute negatively to protecting the environment.
4. Piece of Art
Most handmade ceramics are created one at a time, giving pieces an organic quality. Since most are handcrafted, no two pieces can be alike. This gives ceramics a unique, artistic difference over other materials for dinnerware.
We can’t always eat food that’s homemade, but we can always have dishes and plates that are handmade. In today’s world of mass production, there are only a handful of items that we can truly call hand-crafted. Ceramics are one of history’s oldest trades, but these pieces are still working for the modern home. It’s art you can eat off of and something that you can pass on to the next generation to cherish and enjoy for years to come.
5. Safe & Non-Toxic
Dishes, mugs, pitchers, pie plates, casseroles, platters, bowls and other wares that are imported from China, India, Mexico, South America and other foreign sources may contain lead, cadmium and other unhealthy minerals in their clay, paints, and glazes. Additionally, as pretty as old pottery and china can be, lab studies have proven that many of the best known old brands have begun to leach lead with the passing years, making them unsafe for use around food. These are the problems that smart consumers are now seeking to avoid and doctors and home decor publications are urging consumers to put their old dishes on display and find a non-toxic replacement for daily use.
Choosing ceramics that are lead-free and created with dishwasher and microwave safe glazes are just as important as the look of the dinnerware. So do your research and purchase wisely.