We know that spikes aren't typically considered festive decorations, but the objects on this list of housewares—adorned with thorns, spines, and spurs—are so gift-worthy they'll redefine your understanding of holiday decor.
The most minimalist and conspicuous manifestation of the spiked form is the brass ring stand from The Unique Display. An elegant 7cm cone of brass tapers to softened point, serving as a pillar of security and support for any unworn rings. It's an elegant functional form and our our most epitomizing spike.
Sticking with our simple spikes, we head to the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania to find Ted Ferringer and Seven Pines Forge. Here, following in the tradition of American wrought iron, Rosehead nails are forged by hand. Strong but visually delicate hammered bars form long nail shanks, ranging 1 inch-4 inches, that taper to slight points. The dimples, formed from during the process of defining the nail head through hammering, create a petaling effect, hence the "Rosehead" name. If you have someone in your life with a builder mentality, these hand forged nails can serve as punctuating accents in woodworked pieces. For the remaining people on your list, a collection of these stunning nails can serve as unexpected home decor. Fill a small glass vessel with hand forged nails for a handsome accent perfect in any home.
Another striking spike is a Edgerton-esque ripple of ceramic, the Clean-A-Bowl Pipe Cleaning Ashtray from Lisa Bloom Pottery. As we don't condone smoking, we set this unglazed hazelnut stoneware piece in our entryways to hold our rings, keys, change and other pocket collections we accumulated while out in the world. The central peak drips down and expels a cresting circular wave that defines the perimeter of the dish, accentuated by the rough textured—dare we say spiny- texture of the clay. It's a gorgeous, versatile form at home everywhere.
We turn next to IKUKO Iwamoto, a London-based Japanese artist whose work is synonymous with spines. Finding inspiration in the " intricate and fragile looking structures, and odd forms found in the microscopic world" (1) Iwamoto shares slip-cast porcelain with mesmerizing fans of needles and spikes. While all of her work leaves us weak in the knees, for the day to day we adore Iwamoto's Spiky Sake cup, a small off-white porcelain cup with a cascading collar of spikes that drapes gently around the curve of the cup like an uninviting but phenomenally aesthetic handle. Fortunately, the opposite side is left unembellished so one has ample room to hold this delicate cup without threat of skewering spikes.
For when we want a bit more visual drama, the gold rimmed Internal Spiky Bowl is the perfect piece. A dented white bowl reveals a jungle of jutting spires within. Bringing to mind the depth, gravity, and internal chaos of Eva Hesse's Accession cubes, the bowls are mouths of vicious denticles ready to consume and entrap anything you let slip into them. They're absolutely fantastic.
If you're looking to gift a cup that levels even more available space to grasp, try the Golden Spike Cups from Los Angeles-based Neptune Glassworks. Crystal clear glass is blown into classic tumbler forms which receive the nontraditional additions of 6 evenly spaced glass points around the bulb. These points, along with the lip of the cups, are emblazoned with gold and, when light touches the glass, this luxurious metallic accent swirls within the highlights of the glass to create a prismatic and luminous article of glassware.
For an opaque offering, turn to Savanah, Georgia's Element Clay Studio where artist Heather Knight creates these glistening Small Gold Conch Bowls. Lined with gold and covered in pulled points, each bowl epitomizes modern luxury and beauty so you can be sure it will make a memorable and cherished gift.
Inspired by the points on a conch shell, this bowl has tons of personality. Hand built and sculpted porcelain is left raw on the outside and coated with real 18K gold on the interior. (2)
With a similar form but decidedly different aesthetic, the Xochicalco Bowls from Onora Casa are some of our favorite spine-covered creations. "Inspired by ceremonial vessels found in archeological sites in Xochicalco, each piece is modeled and hand burnished by artistan Esther in her family atelier in San Bartolo Coyotepec" (3). To create each striking bowl, naturally black clay is collected, purified, and molded to form the spiked shape of the bowl which is then allowed to fully dry for weeks on end. Once almost dry, the bowl is rubbed by hand using small smooth stones to compact the clay at the surface of the bowl, eliminating any subtle irregularities to create a dense black finish that glows with its burnished satiny finish. After being fired, the bowls are durable functional pieces that boast a handsome modern design everyone can enjoy.
The Vetiver Baskets from Tahiana Creation may have more needly quills, but these natural vetiver branches are much less imposing than the points on the previous tablewares. The bowls are hollow nests; the interiors reveal a woven substructure but the surface is uncombed, a chaotic, wild tangle of threadlike fibers that reach out into the surrounding space. Each basket is unique and hypnotic and will surely wow anyone lucky enough to receive one this holiday.
Arguably the least intimidating spike choice is this adorable Brass Pillbug by Baltimore based Metal Cakes. Each isopod is "comprised of over 70 individual parts...made with solid brass sheet metal/hardware and recycled bicycle chain"(2) . Ball jointed spikes, the legs can be set out to support an open oval-shaped sculptural bug or can withdraw when the pillbug finds its defensive form, a curled ball. We always love the Pillbug but it becomes an abstracted work of art when placed in a supine position. The articulated shell of the body forms overlapping crests, the mechanical chains and hexagonal nuts of the central body are revealed, and the bent-nail-like legs stand erect and imposing. The piece is fantastically complicated and mechanical making it perfect for those in your life who appreciate detail as well as those who would adore golden pillbug companions.
For a more threatening spike display, try the Black Spike Urchin Bowl by Emily Miller. A stunning bronze and stoneware sculpture, this inverted urchin resembles a cactus, pairing languid ridges and rows of soft imprinted dots with the aggressively long branches of bronze spines. The perfect bowl to house items you treasure, this piece will provide a striking frame around your object while keeping them safe from wandering hands.
How about an elongated urchin? To create the Red & Long Urchin Platter, artist Yara Fukimoto forms a long ovular platter from red clay. The center cavity receives a glistening white glaze while long and short spikes drip from the bottom to form a maze of legs. From Portuguese brand MYKUBO, each platter is a masterpiece of artistry and design that will be a welcomed holiday accent piece.
At MYKUBO we believe in products created by people that tell stories and emotions with every detail of the piece. We want to share the persistent and courageous spirit of artisans and contemporary artists, independent designers and innovative brands. (3)
Bulgarian Concept Ceramic Studio creates a variety of contemporary spiny drinkware pieces but the porcelain white and gold stoneware mug is a one of our favorites. Each mug is an incredible study of detail. A 10.8 oz mug form is dimpled with a running bond arrangement of round indentations that travel the entire surface of the mug before meeting the bottom of the vessel, which has creases and ribs like those on pumpkins. The handle is where we find the spines. The perfect spheres are affixed to the sides of the mugs, each sphere coated by a crowd of the tiny, peaked mounds of decorative dots, like the salt covered rocks of California's Devil's Golf Course. Some are tipped in gold but all offer a tactical texture that we find intoxicating, even if the mug itself only holds our coffee!
We return to Pennsylvania to find our next chillingly beautiful spikes from Birdguard. If the name didn't already give it away, the company distributes bird control products intended to keep pigeons and other birds off outdoor surfaces like rooftops, chimneys, power lines, and billboards—festive right? But stay with us, we promise it's worth it! Made of eco-friendly recycled polycarbonate, these flexible 12" lines hold translucent branches that sprout from the base like rows of winter trees. When illuminated, they become glistening icicles, the divaricating points of snowflakes. They're honestly magnificent, and we know this for sure because whomever was responsible for photographing the spikes for Birdguard clearly appreciated the inherent artistry of their design. We're not suggesting you gift these rows of spikes for pigeon control; instead find inspiration beyond their intended purpose: paint the bases in an opaque metallic colour and create one of a kind stands that one can display on the mantle to hold collected holiday cards, or weave tendrils of juniper and holly through the bases of the branches and lay ornaments and electric tea candles along the base for a show-stopping centerpiece, or fill the base with cascading lights and hang various lengths of crystalline plastic icicles off the branches to create wintery window boxes that will leave your neighbors drooling. We told you it would be worth it!
If you're loved ones would rather bring the icicles inside, try one of these spiked cone molds. Made of food safe silicone, these molds can create epic ice cubes, decadent cones of chocolate, or—as they're safe up to 450°— spikes of cake, cheesecake, mousse, or any other treat you might desire to restructure! These molds are playful culinary accessories that will certainly inspire your loved ones to head to the kitchen and explore.
Perhaps the cool touch of marble would appeal to those on your gift list. The handsome, charcoal gray marble cylinder of this Marble Spike Bowl from ELTE is a contemporary fortress. Straight sides and flat cut rim offer a rigid severity that is the perfect backdrop to three rings of gold spines that wind around the smooth marble surface. The reflectivity of the thorns and the organic striations of the marble capture the same mystical duality as the faceted crystals erupting from within their darkened supporting matrix. Highly decorative and superbly elegant, these Spike Bowls make exceptional holiday gifts.
Finally we want to share two platters that may not have explicit spikes, but have undulating, waves of ridges that offer the same visual texture and tactical ferocity as the spiny thorns on our earlier picks.
Firenuit in Seoul, South Korea offers an outstanding Saint Michael Platter in an opulent Eclipse Matte Black. Ceramic is carved by hand to reveal large scooped hollows nestled within the shadows of the intersecting ridges. A wide border holds organized cavities except for the tapered top and bottom of the ovular form at which point they spill into the central surface of the platter and entangle into the pool of irregular hollows. It's an entrancing piece that demands the tracing touch of inquisitive hands.
The bark like ridges that weave over the surface of the platters from Hallaj Studio in Tehran, Iran. Like an engraving artist inscribing pattern, Hallaj Studio intimately removes shards of wood to reveal a scarred, fibrous surface that is absolutely mesmerizing. The ridges peak and undulate like cresting sand dunes that frame indentations, overlapping like scales. Each piece is entirely unique so you can be confident your loved ones will be getting one of a kind works of art with each gifted platter.
Whether you prefer icy cones or rhythmically carved cavities, offer those on your holiday list the gift of spines and texture this holiday. And don't forget to browse the full 2021 Holiday Gift Guide for even more tactile inspiration.