Beautiful bathroom basins

Octopus vessel sink by Shayne Greco.
Octopus vessel sink by Shayne Greco.

Make a splash in the bathroom with an ornamental artisan basin

Today’s bathroom basins are more than just functional – many are works of art.

Indeed, basins created with exquisite materials and craftsmanship can add beauty and style to any bath.

Kohler Artist Editions bathroom basins.
Above and below: Kohler Artist Editions bathroom basins.

Tracey Kline of Encompass, a design and development firm, says artisan basins are becoming increasingly popular in Cayman, and can serve as a focal point of the room.

“There is an opportunity to add an element of surprise and personality by utilizing a vessel sink,” she says.

They are especially popular in a powder or guest bath as it is the most widely viewed sink in the home outside of the kitchen, she notes.

“It provides a chance for the homeowner to push the design-limits a bit, since it can be a little more impractical as it isn’t utilized on a day-to-day basis like a master vanity sink is,” she says.

Tracey fell in love with creations by Shayne Greco Ceramics, recommended to her by a friend who spotted them at a U.S. design expo.

“They fit in perfectly with the refined coastal contemporary scheme that is so popular in Cayman, with a hint of whimsy for good measure,” she says. “We had incredible feedback from our Facebook post that featured one of his octopus vessel sinks and have two installations of them scheduled so far.”

Shayne Greco is a North Carolina artist who handcrafts a line of stoneware pottery, including vessel sinks. Many are decorated with flowing sculptures of land and sea creatures including octopus, starfish and geckos.

“His craftsmanship is just incredible,” says Tracey. “The depth of the finish and the detail work is extraordinary. They are very high-quality pieces.”

Shayne has never been to Cayman – or the Caribbean – but has always had an affinity to the ocean.

Starfish vessel sink by Shayne Greco.
Starfish vessel sink by Shayne Greco.

“I have always been drawn to the uniqueness of the ocean,” he says. “Ever since I was a child I collected shells, sand dollars, urchins, starfish, etc. It is literally a different world under the surface of the ocean. I find it continually fascinating.”

One of his missions was to capture the beautiful color of the sea in his work. He came up with the hue named Caribbean Blue through trial-and-error, experimenting with several recipes over a span of 10 months.

“I knew I wanted a beautiful blue color that would enhance my work and match the beautiful hue of the Caribbean ocean. I thought it would be simple. I was wrong,” he says. “I finally found two recipes I liked but weren’t perfect. I decided to overlay them together and came up with something very close to what I was striving for. I tweaked and manipulated until I had it. In the end, the Caribbean Blue requires a total of seven coats of glaze and a special third firing to finish.”

While he makes multiples of the same design, each basin is crafted individually by hand, so inevitably no two sinks are exactly alike. Demand for his one-of-a-kind sinks is growing. Last year he had about a dozen orders. This year, he’s sold well in excess of 100.

“It is really satisfying to know I’m not the only one who thought the traditional bathroom sink needed to be challenged,” he says.

Marrying art and craft

Kohler’s Artist Editions line, featured in the Kohler showroom at A. L. Thompson’s, combines art and craft to create unique, stylish designs. The sinks are handcrafted at the company’s headquarters in Kohler, Wisconsin.

“Each sink has its own story and craft journey,” says Alyssa Wilterdink, product manager with Kohler in Wisconsin. “Many of our patterned sinks leverage a ceramic ink transfer process. Our designers create beautiful artwork, which is hand-applied to a finished glaze sink. The product is then re-fired, ensuring the artwork’s pigmentation is durably fired into the piece for lasting beauty.”

Each design begins with a study of patterns and palettes drawn from influences all over the world. They are handcrafted by artisans using distinct glazes, textured patterns and premium materials.

“Our glass sinks often have very small bubbles and shear marks present, which is reflective of the craft operation we have, and builds character into the piece,” says Alyssa. “They are very different from some of the mass-market glass sinks you would otherwise see.”

She adds that the vast variety in the collection is another draw of the Artist Editions line.

“Some create the most perfect pairing with decorative tile or faucets, while others beg to be designed around as the room’s centerpiece,” she says. “I love the flexibility the line affords and the fact that whether it’s a powder room or master bath, you can do something beautiful that truly reflects your style.”