As I mentioned in my blog post about my last show, people really have a "thing" about mugs.
Though my cabinet is teeming with mugs of all shapes and sizes, I still tend to use the same mug every morning when I drink my first cup of coffee. If that mug happens to be dirty, or still sitting unwashed in the dishwasher, I will wash it so that I can drink from it. If someone else happens to grab it before me, I'm fairly sure my angst makes them physically uncomfortable.
Everyone has a ritual. The vessel they drink from is a big one. Knowing this, I returned to a form that I've ignored for a long while - the handled cup. As I started making mugs again (that was one long, mean aversion to handles). I wanted to focus on creating a few lines of mugs that were big enough to feel comfortable in a bigger hand, deep enough to accommodate the most aggressive caffeine junkies and visually compelling enough to give the eye something to enjoy or ponder, every day.
Though we are all very different, in one important way - we are all the same. We all have stories. All based on relationships and events that hold weight in our heart and minds. The story of why it is our "favorite." The story of how it somehow met it's end, or passed on to hands of someone else we love. In all the traffic that found it's way to the "mug end" of my booth table - I found something consistent - everyone had a favorite mug. And everyone likes to tell a story about it - which is great because I'm always amused to listen. It was validating to watch each prospective customer do the same thing: survey the mugs on the table, touch a few, pick up one or two...then begin to tell me that story.
There was one gentleman who pulled out his phone to show me a picture of his grandparents mug set - a set the family fought over after their eventual passing a few years ago. There was another woman who explained to me why a round, full belly on a mug simply felt better in her arthritic hands as she preferred to grip the body rather than the handle. Note: I took notes, and I am making as rounded belly version based on her sharing her insight with me. There was another family, who each picked their own cup in the set of four they purchased. There was another man who made a point to tell me what he liked about each cup he picked up, and he handled them all, until he found the one that "belonged in his hand."
As I returned to the studio this week, I went back to my production of mugs in a variety of sizes, textures and shapes. I was rejuvenated from the conversations, the stories and the validation that I'm creating something that can potentially become a necessary accompaniment to someone's daily process. I thought about the stories, and wondered if one day, my cups may carry a story for the people who used them.
There are other orders pending, commissions outstanding. They are in progress, but I have to tell you, I think this love affair with making something some emotionally and physically nostalgic is going to stay for a long while. I like that feeling of contentedness I experience when I've bought a smile of satisfaction to the faced of a stranger. Mugs, perhaps more than many other forms, make me feel that connection. Intimately.