Tulipieres: what we did last summer


Coil pots to Tulipiere in 10 weeks of making. Look at that offset foot. Each part has one so each pot appears to hover above the table. Design details like that make me smile. This amazing Tulipiere stack was made by David during one of our six week evening classes. David has already completed our Beginner’s Bundle: Build and has progressed onto the next course. If you’re interested in learning basic pottery making techniques and processes visit Tasters, Courses and Events.


I’m now vicariously living the Tulipiere dream. It’s great tasking projects that are also on my wish list. If nothing else, it puts a deadline on the tooling necessary for the makes.

A Tulipiere is an architectural multi-spouted, and frequently multi-tiered, pot.  They were used to grow tulip bulbs as tulip mania took hold in The Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th Century. Nowadays they are commonly used as vases. The forms are striking and make a powerful statement when the bulbs are in flower and when empty. I think it’s important to make things that earn their keep. Does it enhance your life or is it just taking up space and another thing to dust around? There’s a related post on being nagged by stuff if you’re interested in reading more (see It’s not just a shelf).


Pots really are about people and the Tulipiere reflects a fascinating part of Dutch imperialism, international trade and shipping. Traditional Tulipieres are made from earthenware clay that is hidden using a white tin glaze with blue decoration (Delftware). The ambition was to mimic the fine Chinese porcelains that were coveted for their translucency, purity, density and strength. Europeans didn’t have the knowledge or technology to reproduce porcelain until the 18th century – but that’s another story…

Tin glazes had been around for a long time before Delftware too. Spreading west from Persia – again, another story.


Unfortunately I’ve not had much success growing tulips in the current garden. If I could it’d be jam packed.

When these pots were made it was the right time of year for foraging Echinops  – so I used those to style David and Suzanne’s pots.


I picked-up this plastic Tulipiere from the Rijksmuseum a couple of years ago to remind me to make one. That way, I don’t need to worry about the conditions in the garden to grow tulips. In this product shot I got a bit lucky with the light. Not even close to the richness of a Vermeer but certainly worth a pop. If you’re ever in Amsterdam don’t miss the pots and boats at the Rijksmuseum & of course the paintings.


& finally, spot the dog…

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Sunken Studio is delighted to offer ceramics taster days and short courses led by a skilled practitioner and experienced, fully qualified, tutor. Hands-on sessions provide insight into a selection of techniques and processes and are designed to introduce beginners and enhancers to advanced working methods and practices. The studio can accommodate groups of 3-4 people – perfect for anyone wanting a relaxed and instructive experience.