the book

Free ground shipping on all domestic orders $99+. Boom.
Shop here. Plus! There's newness in our sale section! Up to 50% off.

Seven Seriously Gripping Photos from Helen Levi’s Portfolio

BY caitlin petreycik 02/22/2014

Before Helen Levi started making ceramics—that kind that make us want to replace every cup and dish in our cupboards—she was a photographer who spent her time trailing volunteer firemen and breaking into abandoned mansions. “I learned photography in a wet darkroom, and I always worked with it that way—I never had a digital camera,” Helen explains. “I always appreciated the craft of it, and that’s what I love about ceramics, too. It’s a total craft.” Dive into some of her most stunning photos below.


Civil Servants


305 helen levi ceramics
"Its such a beatiful and calming haven and I am addicted to their waterlemon juice at breakfast. They also have Marmite, which I have a weakness for."
of Helen Levi Ceramics



“This looks like it could be from any decade. The tear in the panel on the cubicle—why wouldn’t anyone have repaired that? I found the pink and the green and the blue so striking.”




“This is almost like an unfinished task. Like someone was about to bring that plant home, and put it up there and forgot about it. I like photographs that lead you to a narrative where maybe you’re not sure what happens.”



Mr. Bender’s Machines


“Mr. Bender was my neighbor when I lived in Queens after college. We grew very close because our buildings were right next to each other. He had this sweater-knitting factory that he inherited from his dad, and it’s been sitting there unused for like 10 or 15 years. He still—because it’s his routine—goes in, sweeps up, fusses around.”




“I met Mr. Bender because I was curious about the space, and he was like, ‘Do you know how to use computers? Do you know how to use eBay?’ He was trying to sell his machines. So I sold like 11 machines for him. This series documents our relationship and the process of moving out these big machines.”



The Mansion


“I had heard stories that Mike Tyson had a house in Ohio. I had read about it on different blogs, and I thought it was a great excuse to go break into a celebrity’s mansion. It was 2010 or 2011 when I was photographing it—the height of the housing-bubble collapse.  There were all of these ridiculous opulent things just sitting there. It looks like there are live green plants by the indoor pool, but they’re actually fake. They’re all wilted, but they’re still bright green.”




“This room had a gold-paneled ceiling and matching gold curtains. That roll of toilet paper is not staged. I think there was a squatter living at the house.”





Want to shop these
very major deals?

You gotta be an Of a Kind newsletter subscriber for access. Enter your email, and if you’re not already signed up, we’ll add you to our list. You'll like it—promise!

Black slash