It’s been a long time since I have posted because I am entrenched in the ups and downs of my transition to professional artist. I have written several posts about my artistic journey, but each time I think I’ve got the post where I want it, something else happens and I have a whole new perspective on my transition.
So what to write about in the interim as I sort out my life? Well my online pottery pal Arthur Halvorsen stepped in and took care of that question. Arthur, prompted by a fan and inspired by marketing guru Seth Godin, created the newest internet sensation – OPERATION C.U.P. (Citizens Using Pottery). Arthur challenges us to buy a handmade cup (mug or tumbler) for our best friend this holiday season. As a potter, I love this idea. Everyone should know the joy of using handmade pottery and nothing is a better introduction than cups.
You may be (and some are) asking why? Why is drinking out of a handmade cup so great? For me its about being conscious and connecting with the world around me.
When drinking out of pottery, I am more conscious of what I am doing. I don’t ignore the vessel like when using mass-produced cups. It becomes something more than just a way to transport liquid to my mouth.
For instance, when drinking from a handmade cup you notice that you are putting the cup to your mouth and drinking out of it. The rim may be thin, or it may be fat. It may be rounded or tapered. You notice these things because it either feels awkward (not good) or it fits just perfectly. You think about what you like in a rim.
If a mug, you notice the handle. You notice how it handle fits in your hand because each one is different and some fit you better than others. Do you use one finger, two fingers or your whole hand? And what is most comfortable for you? Does the handle put undue pressure on a finger, or does it fit just right? Do you have a comfortable place to put your thumb?
If a cup without a handle, you notice how it fits in the palm of your hand. If rounded, it may fit perfectly, but only if not too big or too small for your hand. Do you like straight edges? Is the surface texture comfortable?
And then there is the artistic aspect of the cup. Does it have a picture painted or carved on it? Or is it altered with stamps or some other tool? What shape is it? What color is it? Is it fine porcelain or denser feeling stoneware?
As you use a handmade mug, you notice these things. By noticing these details you become conscious of the drinking process. Being conscious makes you slow down and be present in that moment. That presence can lead you to become aware of the craftsmen ship and time that went into making the mug for your enjoyment. You may even begin to feel gratitude for the artist that chose to make their living by making pots. That gratitude is your new connection to someone else in the world. And it is this aspect that can be difficult to put into words, although I have tried in the past.
None of this happens when drinking from a cookie cutter, mass produced mug (or a paper cup on the go) that is made for the average mouth and hand by a machine on the other side of the world. So this holiday season, give the gift of connection and consciousness. Become a fan of Arthur’s on facebook, and get suggestions for artists who are making great mugs.