About a half hour west of Chapel Hill, out in the country near Eli Whitney, North Carolina, Mark Warren and Chris Pence craft gorgeous ceramic wares under the brand name Haand Ceramics.
“We enjoy the quiet and freedom of working outside of the city,” Pence tells us. He reached out Sprudge after reading our recent feature on Bold Bean Coffee in Jacksonville, a cafe that features Haand products. Pence and Warren use recycled rainwater and eco-conscious practices throughout their line of ceramics, which include dramatic “Cloudware” clay cups, “little footed vessels” for plants, and a portfolio of new work that includes ripple plates, coffee mugs, and a ceramic candelabra.
We wanted to know everything. Can you blame us? Our correspondence with Chris Pence follows below.
Mark & I started Haand in late 2011 but we’ve been friends since high school.
How long have you been studying/creating with ceramic?
I have worked with clay since I was a kid, probably 11 or so. My dad pushed me to become an accountant and I worked as a CPA for 3 years. I left accounting in early 2011 and wanted to find a way back to clay. Mark had been studying craft for several years at the Penland School and we decided to start making pottery together.
What kind of materials do you use?
We make all of our work out of porcelain which is fired to 2,300 degrees and cooled slowly. This makes our work of the highest quality and makes it durable and chip resistant.
Your gear is served at Bold Bean Coffee. What other cafes do you supply?
We supply a several other cafes around the country and are always excited to work with new cafe clients.
Can anyone buy your ceramic goods? Is it offered in retail locations in the US? Can I order your stuff online?
We retail all of our mugs on our website. Our mugs are also sold at select Steven Alan stores around the country.
Can you tell me the volumes of those ceramic cups/mugs?
We have 4 mug styles. Our teacup is 8.5 oz., our “short mug” is 10 oz. our tapered mug is 11 oz. and our “tall mug” is 12 oz. We’re currently prototyping 2 and 3 oz espresso cups.
How many people work for your company?
For the past few years we’ve been doing it all on our own, but in the last 6 months we’ve had to hire help to keep up with demand. Right now we have one employee and are planning to hire another in a month or so.
Can you explain a little more about your ethical practices?
We use rainwater in our clay and a minimal amount of electricity in our production. The majority of our clay ingredients are sourced from the southeastern US. We take time and care in making each piece. We use very little machinery, and it is a very peaceful and quiet place to work. We pay fair wages and provide a free staff lunch everyday. Employees have flexible schedules and are encouraged to challenge the way we do things. We have fun at work and try not to take things too seriously. Laughter always seems to be in the air.
Photos by Sara Earl.