Gift pick No. 18: TerraForma Studio ceramic Cluster

Ask Mickey Fielding how she makes her Cluster -- a ceramic tripod of snack bowls, balanced on pointed feet -- and the artist pauses, then lets out a sigh. "It's painstaking," she says.

Fielding throws each bowl individually, then lays them out on the kiln shelf, upside down. She puts clay bricks under shorter bowls (ensuring the Cluster will be properly balanced when stood right-side up on a table). Only at that point can Fielding add what she calls "the little umbilical cords." The finished arrangement cannot move before it's fired, or else the whole thing will simply fall apart.

Once the Cluster bakes in the kiln, however, the piece feels anything but fragile. The design, available in white or blue, has a nice heft that belies the price: just $125 to $175 for a substantial piece of local, handmade work.

"I am an enormous fan and collector of midcentury ceramics," Fielding says. "What I’m trying to do is take some of those concepts and inspiration and keep working on the ideas -- bringing them back and seeing how I can evolve them."

That effort also can be seen in Fielding's jars and canisters, one of which we've included in the related photo gallery. All of her creations can be bought through her TerraForma Studio.

Updated: This post was updated Nov. 21 to change the single price on the Cluster vessel to a price range, reflecting that the piece is made in different sizes.

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