Life in a Cup, Reflections for the New Year

Life in a Cup, Reflections for the New Year

As has been our tradition at this time of year, Jim and I wanted to share our favorite mugs with you. These are not new mugs you are looking at or mugs you could buy in a store today, but mugs we have been living with for many years now.

Each one gives us great pleasure. They have become like old friends. So secure are they in our hands and comfortable together in our cupboard, we look upon them as mates even though they were not made by the same person. But there is something about the spirit of confidence, the time honored craftsmanship, and the depth of understanding of the material that has turned them from any old clay mugs to deeply cherished objects in our household. A little piece of the soul of the maker is in them. And they greet us every day as we wake up with our morning coffee. That's as close and personal as it gets.

And these pots have come from a tradition that lives on that is neither restrictive, confining or less meaningful than any "new new" direction in clay. The best pots, which these are a part of, are saving us from losing our way as human beings. They tell us what is important.

It is in the striving and understanding of the commitment needed, to make good work, that these pots were formed. Basic at first glance yet so profound. Indeed, each is a life reflected in a cup. These mugs came out of an era when people reached for a narrative that was often straightforward and unashamedly direct, the strong useful pot. Pots that are like a human body; functional, beautiful and strong. 

So whether you are making simple pots or gigantic abstract sculptures from this wonderful material, stick to your story and be fearless. If you work hard and stay with it you will be rewarded and the gift is life changing.

The touching part of working hard with clay is that it will also connect you to a world of others who also strive through their creativity to tell their story. It is in this work you are able to connect to a part of yourself that wants to express itself in this most malleable of all materials. It is no mistake that in many cultural traditions, humans came from clay. And believe it or not there is something that binds all of us together as makers that is much deeper than the fact that all this work gets fired in a kiln. It is the clay, this most basic material that can be so many things. In our hands it has reflected who we are for thousands of years. It tells us where we have been and where we are now.

That said, we believe in the power of creativity to heal us, to lift us and to connect us to something deeper in ourselves. It makes our lives richer. So carry on, stay creative and we'll see you in the new year!

Anne and Jim Bailey