The Art of Ceramics
He moves the potter's wheel with incredible speed, but calm and quiet are fundamental to his work. Extraordinarily talented potter Eric Landon, the founder of Tortus Copenhagen, explains his craft.
Eric Landon moves like a sorcerer at the potter’s wheel. His hands glide along with a shapeless ball of clay until a familiar form emerges: a cylindrical vase or a beehive-like vessel. This is the moment he looks forward to each morning. Here, Landon recounts his daily routine as potter and co-founder of the Tortus Copenhagen ceramics studio.
Where do you work? My studio is in a 200-year-old townhouse tucked in a private courtyard in the heart of Copenhagen. It’s been my creative home and refuge for the past six years.
"Social media has affected people’s impression of pottery production as its presentation is sped up to match short attention spans, but one pull upward on the clay can take up to 60 seconds."
How would you describe a typical day? There are no typical days. I travel most of the year, but when I’m home in Copenhagen my days are split between teaching workshops and producing my own work. Sometimes I struggle to see it as work—my life and my job are so intertwined. What is the best part of your day? It’s definitely my 30 or 40 minutes at the wheel. People are surprised to hear how little time I spend at the wheel, but I’ve mastered my craft over decades and no longer need to sit for hours practicing. I’m satisfied with one or two beautiful, unique pieces of pottery in a day. It’s important to keep my production small and maintain it almost as a hobby.
What’s one thing you can’t work without? Peace and quiet. Pottery at this level requires great concentration, and when I’m at the wheel I’m hyper sensitive to motion and sound. When I throw, my employees know to stay away. What might we be surprised to learn about making ceramics? Pottery rewards slowness, which is part of its appeal. The slower I work the clay, the better the results at the wheel. Social media has affected people’s impression of pottery production as its presentation is sped up to match short attention spans, but one pull upward on the clay can take up to 60 seconds.
Why do you think there is such a cottage industry of ceramics in Copenhagen? Denmark has a rich ceramics tradition and a deep-rooted respect for the functional handmade vessel. It’s really about simple objects for a simple way of life. Life is less hectic in Copenhagen than in other places, and the pace of ceramics harmonizes with the pace of the city. Why is it important to you to preserve a traditional Danish craft? I learned my craft in the US before moving to Denmark when I was 24. Living, studying and working here have definitely affected my aesthetic. I think minimalism and simplicity can serve the lives of more people in the world, so I inject that where I can. But I feel like I’m part of an international ceramics movement. I try to preserve a traditional craft that many cultures have in common, but with a Danish angle.