Sandra Apperloo, aka The Pottery Parade, creates cute, cuddly friends made from clay

The ceramicist, based in the Netherlands, knows a good thing or two about making something that’s both silly and adorable.

12 October 2020

“I love weirdness; playful shapes and characters that are just a bit off,” says Sandra Apperloo, a ceramicist who goes by the name of The Pottery Parade. A respite from the madness around us, Sandra’s friendly faces, wiggly arms, poking tongues and twisting, hugging characters are sure to make you miss a big group hug with your friends – but not in a sad kind of way, more that it will bring you a smile as you think of the cute, silly memories made together.

Based in Utrecht, Sandra initially ran an illustration blog where she would spend her days writing about other creatives. “In that time, I didn’t really consider myself a maker, though I tried to explore my own creativity as much as possible, trying out different types of media such as paint, pencils, embroidery and lino printing,” she tells It’s Nice That. Carrying great adoration for the creatives she would feature and write about, contrastingly Sandra found it difficult to find her own path. That was until she was introduced to ceramics during her introductory course at Noot & Swart studio: “I loved working with clay, and I loved the fact that the entire process is super diverse and that there is so much to learn!”

Her next move was to spend as much time in the studio as possible, creating works under her guise The Pottery Parade, before her hard work paid off and she came to own her own studio. “I still love the whole process as much as I did back then,” she continues, explaining how the blog lent itself greatly to her craft in a way that enabled her to become inspired on a daily basis. “There are so many artists whose work I got to know at that time,” she adds, “and continuously exploring the work of new artists helped me to define what it is I appreciate the most about visual art.” In this case, it’s the strange playfulness that she’s drawn to, especially if something has a charm or a specifically pretty element – which assuredly explains why much of her work is coated in pastel colours and patterns.


Sandra Apperloo: The Pottery Parade (Copyright © The Pottery Parade 2020)

Working intuitively and with no strict plan, Sandra’s characters tend to take form gradually. You might not notice this at first, but each creation has a distinct personality about them; there’s a subtle difference in the details, like the faces or position of the mouths or arms, that give each and every piece its own unique charm. “I’m referring to things such as the position of their eyes, freckles and marks, skin shades and hairdos etc – it really doesn’t get boring,” she says, noting how, once a piece is complete, it’s given a name that best suits the character at hand. Collectively, though, they’re given a more categorised name – so far there’s Weirdo Bud Vases, featuring entangled friends and long, lean figures standing in big groups; then there’s Pots & Vases, where the form tends to take shape in greater variety; Plant Friends are ornamental chums that you can stick in your pots; and Dishes & Ornaments, that are not only self-explanatory but also exceptionally sweet.

At the moment, Sandra is working on the final preparations for an online ceramics course she’s making with Domestika. Nervous but excited no less, this will be the first time she will be sharing her knowledge with an audience. “But it’s something I have been wanting to do for a while now,” she adds, telling us how she plans to continue making her Bud Vases and start to explore round shapes. As for imparting wisdom into the ins and outs of ceramics, she leaves us with an advisory gift: “Doing what feels good can be valuable advice for exploring creatives. Listen to your own thoughts and ideas, and try out new things frequently – even if your idea doesn’t make too much sense at the time or you are not sure how things will work out. In fact, maybe then is a good moment to do things, as it will help you to grow.”

GallerySandra Apperloo: The Pottery Parade (Copyright © The Pottery Parade 2020)

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Sandra Apperloo: The Pottery Parade (Copyright © The Pottery Parade 2020)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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