11 October 2010

A Week of 100 Mugs

    I spent the last week in near total immersion, making mugs for the masses! When I worked at Winchcombe everything was produced in big numbers, production being how the pottery survived all these years (200+). Eddie Hopkins could make and handle 500 small mugs in a week!!! Sid Tustin made a million pots in his 51 years at the pottery! I'm sure that Ray has done the same. Where do they all go?
    100 has been my number for many years but it is rare that I reach it anymore. When I first made pots here in Fredericksburg I was retailing mugs for $4.50 and wholesaling them for half of that! I had to make a lot of pots to get by. It was great training.
    So, during a week of fantastic autumn weather I hunkered down and did it. 105 mugs thrown in a couple of days and then handled, glazed, slipped and decorated. Raw glazing means that they are ready for the fire now, still a month away, but nice to have them 'in the bank'.  

I've mentioned here before that I reckon that I've made many, many thousands of mugs in the last 30+ years and I'm of two minds about that these days. For the most part I am grateful for all the bills that I've paid by selling them and I genuinely enjoy how much pleasure that they give to folks. The 'but' here is that I sometimes wish that we collected something besides mugs. Everyone collects mugs. I do. You do. We all do. But I wish that there were more teapot collectors and bottle collectors and jug collectors et al.
 Just saying...
And that being said, I still continue to find them interesting to make and explore. If I have a methodology for my pottery endeavors it is to take an old idea and make it new. More on that soon. 

Barrel shaped and little round ones.  3/4 pound o' clay.
 Variations on a theme. Nice shadows. Smooth surfaces are for future combing. 1 1/2 pounds.
My one loss. Mug fatigue
More atmosphere.

7 comments:

Incognito said...

Wow! Great work and I love the photos. I am a collector of pitchers; I do not have many, but most of the ones I have come with a story. One from an older aunt that is really an oversized measuring cup, one that we saw being made at the Williamsburg glass blowing station, another the clear glass 1960s-era pitcher my mother made our Kool-Aid in on those hot summer days. It is a precious collection to me, one, because my mother died thirty years ago, and also because I know that they will be residing in my childrens' homes when I am no longer here. Maybe they will have a couple of special mugs, too.

Charles The Potter said...

Wow Dan, I laughed out loud while reading your comments on mugs. I am always saying similar things to my wife about mugs. I wish people wanted more other things..maybe things without so many handles. I keep raising prices..mine started out at $12 in 1994 and are now at $25 and I still can't make enough to keep them in stock. Thanks for sharing:) and happy potting!

Christine H S said...

Ha - Mugs, mugs! Oh yes, how I wish I could stop making them too sometimes, but as you say they pay so many bills and it IS rewarding when people do love them so. Also a board of freshly thrown mugs is a grand sight. Like you say, where DO they all go? I think we all get a bit of mug fatigue, but guess what, I collect then too!

Kelly Kessler said...

"I genuinely enjoy how much pleasure that they give to folks. The 'but' here is that I sometimes wish that we collected something besides mugs. Everyone collects mugs. I do. You do. We all do. But I wish that there were more teapot collectors and bottle collectors and jug collectors et al."

I like what you're saying, here, Dan. I find myself having a slightly different take these days. I for one love to make pitchers far more than collectors love to buy them. But I also find myself shifting from a more theoretical approach to function - "it has a handle, it pours well...it's functional!" - to a more grounded one. I live in a small house with a small kitchen, and I think twice not only about the price of larger pots but about where they will live in my house if I bring them home. I hit saturation a decade or two ago.

Also, in addition to paying bills, I welcome the ready connection people feel to mugs. It's good to have a functional common ground that doesn't require educational outreach!

Hannah said...

Hi Dan, mugs are fab, I have an order for 36 to make and I need to get on with them. Yes I love mugs, you're right we all do.
What you're going to need is a collector of fantastic ceramic birds!

ImPerceptible said...

Hi Dan, This is my first comment here but I've been reading awhile. I live in F'burg and my daughters take classes at Liberytown. I don't collect mugs. I have one I found in Scotland years ago and when it breaks I'll mourn it's loss and get a new one. But, I do love to collect birds and I can't wait to see your new projects! I also like turned wood bird houses and tiny ceramic bugs(for the birds of course) Oil lamps are also a favorite.

-Sherry

Joe Troncale, MD said...

Thanks for the mug shots!
Everyone likes mugs. They are personal.