What separates art from crafts? Sometimes, it’s a fine line. A crafter is seen as a person who creates functional physical objects with their hands and learned skills, while an artist expresses emotions and ideas that transcend the methods, materials, and elements from which their work is made. They aren’t mutually exclusive, and it’s always fun to come across work that can clearly be classified as both.
Sandra Apperloo straddles that line with some of the most fun and creative ceramics you’ve ever seen. Based in the Netherlands, she crafts a range of objects brimming with personality that you could use in both a practical sense and hang on a wall as art, including dishes, ornaments, pots, vases, and decorative “plant friends” that poke out from among your philodendrons and monsteras.
With “Weirdo Bud Vases,” Apperloo turns spindly bud vases into adorable characters that interact with each other to express a variety of emotions. Some twist around each other anxiously. Some gaze into each other’s eyes. Some glance with curiosity, or stare in seriousness. Each little anthropomorphized vessel seems to have a life of its own.
Apperloo’s adept use of color and pattern give the pieces a style that’s all her own, whether they’re painted in pastel blue, mint, pink, spring green, yellow, or black and white. Polka dots, leaves, branches, flowers, and other markings add visual interest. Among these “weirdos” are also a few in a color scheme clearly modeled on “Delft Blue,” the world famous pottery historically produced in the Dutch city of Delft.
“I love colors and patterns,” the artist writes on her website, adding that she “h[as] a weak spot for pastel shades, I like to sculpt tiny eyes, paint weird freckles, and I challenge myself to try out fun new things all the time. From the biggest vase to the tiniest dish, I put love, thought, and effort into every single piece I create. Unloading my ceramics from the kiln gives me the best feeling ever. I love to see how the different characters turn out after the firings! I hope my work makes people laugh and daydream. I hope they distract from daily businesses, leave warm feelings, and tickle imaginations.”
“I hardly create plans or designs before I start working on a piece. I usually decide on the shape when I am building it, finding what feels good at that moment. This is the case for every part of the process: shaping, sculpting, choosing the colors, and painting the patterns. It helps me to stay open-minded and try out new things, which I feel is really important in my work.”
Apperloo sells these vases, along with her other works, on her website, “The Pottery Parade.” Prices usually range from €48 — €144, but her work is so popular, her whole shop is often sold out. You can keep up with her latest creations on Instagram @thepotteryparade to jump right on a new release when it’s available. Apperloo also curates a fun blog called Artistic Moods, which highlights artists with aesthetics similar to her own.