Monday, April 22, 2013

My cup runneth over...

...well actually, I am at least trying to keep it partially filled.  But in thinking about cups, I find myself preoccupied with some thoughts about them that have been on my mind lately.

You see, for me making cups has always been part of what I do and make.  Sometimes it is like doing ceramic aerobics...using cups to help jump start the making process both physically and creatively.  I do love functional cups though, which I often make and are surrounded by and use daily in the home.  But honestly, I often get sidetracked making cups that soon become more visual explorations into form, surface and idea (dare I call them 'sculpture'?).  What a great way to wonder within ones work, without straying too far from the ideal cup.  It seems many artists do it, I think, both in clay and other mediums.  There is something about the cup form that draws us in, or maybe it is because we all understand it, and since it is part of most everyone's day, it is a safe form to explore both within the range of function all the way to any sculptural idea that may present itself.  From the wonderful functional cups made by so many potters today (too many to list here), to ones like the sculptural cup of Brancusi, made of solid wood and extremely large, the cup form resonates so well for us all.

I recall years ago drinking water from a stream with my hands cupped to contain the liquid, thinking how natural it is for us to physically identify with a drinking vessel knowing it started from the simple act of holding our own hands together.  And, sharing beverage with one another using the same cup, as one does in the tea ceremony, or around the kitchen table, allowing the cup form to become an intimate object used to foster a type of communication with one another.  So what better object than the cup to use as a 'connector' for humans, both through its ability to function to its power as a visual metaphor, therefore serving as both utility and art.

But let's look at another aspect of this, and that is to have the cup become a type of legacy from one person, or one family, to another.  I am speaking here of the cups we use daily, perhaps a favorite cup that is special to us for a variety of reasons.  It could have been received as a gift, or something we obtained through an event, experience, or whatever.  Regardless, a cup, any cup or cups we own, have the potential to carry with them a myriad of feelings, experiences, memories, uses, etc., and can each begin to define moments and individuals in our lives.  And let's be honest here, it is not inconceivable that those same cups we use from day to day (if they do not get broken along the way), may outlive their owners, and as a result get passed down from one person, or one generation to another.  I'll bet most of us have pots that were once owned and used by our ancestors, and as a result we hold them dear and are reminded of these people each and every day we see, hold, and use them in our own lives.

So, I do believe that the cups we make that are passed along to others as gifts, through sales, or whatever, hold the potential to become part of a family history, and therefore serve as legacies of who we were in a particular place and time.  While I am not suggesting we think too hard on it all, I am suggesting that we think some, and care enough to put ourselves into any cup we make, for any reason we make it, knowing it may one day become part of a person, or family legacy, far from the maker itself.  

One last thought, and I admit a crazy one, is that I am contemplating posting a cup a day to my blog (no commitment yet, only a thought I am considering!). I would love to see what might come from it, and allow me to share the cups, or ideas of cups, I see as part of my own life.  Might prove interesting to observe how my own thoughts about cups might evolve.  Not necessarily limiting them to clay either?  Hmm, a thought.  But one a day, for how long...a year I nuts? Sure, so we'll see if I can talk myself into taking the plunge!

For now though, here are some cups being made in my own studio, along with the Brancusi wooden cup I love so much!

functional cups

sculptural cup and saucer

Brancusi's wooden cup