Gift pick No. 9: Ben Medansky's irreverent stoneware

Only about a year has passed since Ben Medansky started his own studio, but already his cheeky wabi sabi ceramics have landed on the shelves of stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

"Ceramics is something you do every day," said Medansky, whose pieces start at $50 and run upwards of $300. "Clay is so alive. It's like having a bunch of crying babies to take care of daily."


Medansky has a wry style. Mugs he made for coffee bar Go Get Em Tiger have intriguing nubs just above the base with no discernible function. "I can just imagine the strange conversations around them," Medansky said.

Using a palette derived from his desert roots, Medansky works in clay or terra cotta, each piece slumping, leaning or waving a bit, a reminder of his hand at work.

"I stop right at the moment before it looks machine-made," he said.

Medansky, 25, has been in ceramics for 15 years. He fell back in love at the School of

Art Institute of Chicago

. A winter class at a sister school, Ox-Bow School of Art in Michigan, turned into a succession of classes in ceramics, sculpture and woodworking.

He said he hopes to expand to Europe and Asia. For now, Ben Medansky Ceramics are available through his site, Iko Iko and Hemingway & Pickett.