Three Rivers Clay Works
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Special Projects

           Collaboration and investigation represent two important aspects of Three Rivers Clay Works creative process.  Our work, based on textures found within our built environment and our own custom Brereton Avenue series, demands a creative and deliberate approach that explores new material possibilities while pushing us to develop new designs. Our collaborations with culinary artists and industry professionals affords us both the ability to test, encourage and promote qualities not ordinarily found within the realm of functional objects. All great things are a negotiation. In all scenarios, the point of creating ceramics is to push new concepts and encourage contemplation surrounding what we are exposed to and what we are able to make.


Survey: Pittsburgh

Survey: Pittsburgh is a textural journey through the streets and neighborhoods of the city that we call home. Unique among 19th- early 20th century cities, Pittsburgh was at its most architecturally grandiose during a time which saw modern methods of steel-frame construction meet older crafts such as stone-masonry and architectural ceramic design. As the 21st century dawns and building budgets no longer have room for such minute details we risk losing access to some of the most powerful elements of American city-craft over the last 100 years. In a small effort to bring attention to the state of the future of our built environment, Three Rivers Clay Works have collected textures from many of our most cherished buildings to create a line of custom tableware and to create sculptural pieces which draw attention to the details that are rarely noticed yet are a part of our everyday.


Duncan Street Dinners

The interaction between ceramic and culinary design should challenge and surprise-- ideally, and often, to the delight of both potter and chef. Beginning with an inauspicious introduction at a Strip District barbeque, the potters of Three Rivers Clay Works teamed up with two chefs and a bartender who had recently begun hosting exploratory dinners at their home on Duncan St. in Pittsburgh's Lawarenceville neighborhood. As their menus challenged traditional restaurant methodologies, they sought plates that would similarly challenge them to think differently about the food they made. After several meetings discussing both food and aesthetics, we designed this series.


Signature Series

One-of-a-kind offerings from the artists of Three Rivers Clay Works, the combined 30 plus years of making ceramic objects are highlighted in this collection that offers experimental and often complicated construction techniques. These are our most rare pieces-- each unique and not replicable.


Brereton Avenue

Inspired by both the history and recent changes in Pittsburgh's aesthetic, the Brereton Avenue line pays homage to the angles, craftsmanship, and theoretical design of our city's heritage while also embracing the sleek minimalism that defines the new era of the 3rd Renaissance. Designed in-house and cast in porcelain, the clean lines and hard angles allow us to play outside of the traditional boundaries of handmade items without losing the individuality of each piece.


Survey: Pittsburgh

          Pittsburgh’s architecture contains a number of not-so-hidden secrets that speak to pittsburgh’s central role in the development of America’s great skyscraper cities.

          Cut stone, cast concrete, and ceramic tile of incredible detail and complexity reveal the deep craft traditions that migrated to Pittsburgh in the minds and hands of those who over a century ago built the modern city we know today.

          It was in this environment that the designers of Three Rivers Clay Works honed and developed their skills. As new construction and mass renovation sweep in changing the face of the city, we conceived this project to call attention to the craft and detail that make our urban landscape so very special. As craftspeople we intimately understand the importance these small details have on the culture and feel of a place. Our work stands as a testament to the inspiration we have received over the years by living in the shadows of such incredible work.

          As the first in a series of projects on this theme, Three Rivers Clay Works introduces a line of functional porcelain vessels based on textures impressed from important, but often unnoticed, elements of the urban built landscape.



.Sometimes Life tells you it's time to work...

Sam went to a Chinese restaurant for brunch before meeting us Garick and Charlie to take textures off of various places in Pittsburgh.


Brick Textures From the Mexican War Streets

There is so much texture surrounding us that we are unaware of, after the start of this project, the three of us have agreed that we look at the world in a very differnt way.


Charlie seeking texture


Fifth Ave. Below Liberty


Telephone Pole Detail


Detail of Door 


Telephone Phone Tumblers


The Tiki


Duncan Street Dinners 

          Aesthetics form the basis of anything we do, but having a functional and durable product remains essential. Above all else, however, it’s the people who interact with what we do that matters most. To that end, we’re always on the lookout for projects that place our ceramics in new contexts.

          Early in 2015, two prominent Pittsburgh chefs and a bartender began a monthly underground dinner collaboration called Duncan Street Dinners designed to showcase the cutting edge of food and drink in a city increasingly recognized for its culinary prowess.

          Be it the food that we eat or the plate from which we eat it, Pittsburgh, as a city, is working towards new design languages for a 21st century culture which prizes place over generality, individuality over homogenity, and the niche over the universal.

          In the summer of 2015, Three Rivers Clay Works, along with Duncan Street Dinners premiered a series of bespoke tableware designs intended to showcase the creativity of the cuisine and the vibrancy of Pittsburgh’s burgeoning tactile culture. Over the years, the collaboration has grown and the monthly Duncan Street Dinner continues to act as something of a design laboratory for our new product lines.


Duncan Street Overview

Duncan Street Dinners Set Overview

      We designed this serviceware set to be at once familiar and challenging, A color palette of alternating reds, greens, whites, and blacks was chosen to play against the vibrant colors of the cuisine. Predictable forms are juxtaposed with contemporary approaches to dish-specific plate designs.



Triptych Plate

Multi-part dishes and family-style service have become a cornerstone of modern cuisine; these plates draw attention to the parts that comprise the whole.

Soup Bowls

Individually hand thrown, the reduced copper red interior and stony matte exterior challenge the cook to think about color, texture, and presentation in ways that the old white plate never quite could.


Platter and Sauce Cup

A Scandinavian take on the traditional Japanese Sushi platter, the cup, tray, and feet were fused together through the glaze melting in the fire.  

Pinch Bowls

The hands and a ball of clay are all that's required to make a bowl. Each of these bowls were individually formed without the use tools: each bowl was pinched roughly 500 times to form the final bowl shape and foot ring.  


Signature Series


          The Signature Series consists of our one-of-a-kind thrown and handbuilt stoneware. Ranging from functional serviceware to large sculpture, most of the pieces seen here are in private collections and represent the range of styles that come with our more unique offerings. Check the Products section to see items currently available for sale.



Brereton Avenue

             The overall aesthetic of our city of Pittsburgh has, throughout its modern history, been dominated by the clean lines of a bleakly industrial landscape. As the city changes, we've seen a move towards a more sleek, updated approach which borrows heavily from global shifts in the way we think about our constructed spaces. As potters, we are as inspired by these design principles as clay is confounded by them. Hard angels are generally not the best companion for ceramic material. Inspired by our interests in Asian glaze chemistries and Scandinavian minimalism, the Brereton Avenue series is our line of custom designed housewares which uses the old ideas of designed Pittsburgh to craft for the contemporary table.