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Artistic Sinks

by Mary Ellen Polson on July 12, 2011

in Kitchens & Bathrooms

ABOVE: A hand-thrown basin with impressed leaves creates a suite with tiles, all by Suzanne Crane Fine Stoneware.

When kitchens and powder rooms are no longer utilitarian spaces, but rather well-appointed rooms shared with family and friends, the sink is another opportunity to introduce color, a special motif, and the hand of the artist–craftsman.

It’s the powder room that’s driving the explosion in beautifully designed and crafted sinks. Artful in their own right, they personalize the room and are in keeping with the spirit of Arts & Crafts rooms. Whether made of hand-hammered copper with a painstakingly applied patina, etched crystal, cast bronze, carved stone, or of glittering mosaics or cloisonne bejeweling a copper base, these sinks are no long merely utilitarian.

What better word is there to describe sand-carved glass sinks painted with pigment and precious metals, or hand-thrown ceramic basins? “Most people really appreciate that type of beauty,” says Kirk Guthrie, a designer who founded Linkasink in the early 1990s. “I think most people respond to the fact that they’re durable enough to use as a sink, but beautiful enough that you’d want to put them on the dining-room table.”

Guthrie began making copper sinks in just four designs. Now his company produces more than 350 sinks in materials including tumbled stone, shell, and cloisonné in addition to copper, which has been heat-treated so that it becomes self-healing.

Today’s apron-front or “farmhouse” sink has old-fashioned appeal, and can be made of fireclay, soapstone, or copper. Photo by Eric Roth.

Today’s apron-front or “farmhouse” sink has old-fashioned appeal, and can be made of fireclay, soapstone, or copper. Photo by Eric Roth.

Despite its rising cost, copper is especially desirable for both kitchens and bathrooms right now. Copper is a “living finish” that continues to change over time. People seem to like the idea of an evolving metal—just as they love houses that have developed character over time.

Copper is reputed to have antibacterial properties and can also stand up to kitchen abuse. It also makes an excellent base for other materials, such as stone mosaic.

Ultimately, a truly artistic sink is a labor-intensive and unique work of art.

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