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Father’s Day, 2017: Reflection and Two Pottery Giveaways

*This is a guest blog post, edited by Joel Cherrico and written by John Fink: CSB/SJU Marketing Intern at Cherrico Pottery. 

Interesting facts about Father’s Day:

  • Father’s Day is the 4th largest card-sending occasion with 72 million sent annually.
  • The average person spends about $115.57 on presents for their father, which totals to about $12,700,000,000 a year.
  • Claude Monet is widely considered the father of Impressionism. Monet’s art represents nature abstractly, in ways that communicate far more beauty than what human eyes can see.
“Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow” by Claude Monet, next to a Cosmic Mug surrounded by a Star Cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

“A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.” – Unknown

Joel Cherrico’s father, Gene Cherrico, played an important role during one of his most defining life moments.

Joel and his dad were on a road trip just before he launched “Cherrico Pottery” back in 2010. Joel was hesitant about taking on the risk of starting his own company, investing his $3,000 of savings and committing to a small business loan after graduation, instead of getting a job like all of his friends.

“Owning your own business is one of the best ways to personal wealth.” – Gene Cherrico

Without Papa Cherrico’s wise words of wisdom, and his love and support, Cosmic Mugs might never have existed.

“I can discover something in the Universe, but if I didn’t do it, somebody else after me will discover that exact same thing. Whereas in the Arts, what you create, no one who was ever born before you or will be born from your death onwards, will ever compose exactly the same thing you did.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

You can learn more about the origins of Cosmic Mugs from Joel’s authorship for American Craft Council: “A Potter’s Journey.” Learn why Joel chose an art major, how he developed a business plan, launched a small business and has operated his pottery business for seven+ years in this American Craft Council “Web Exclusive” blog series:

A Potter’s Journey

Another person who Joel drew inspiration from while growing his business was Robert Herjavec.

Herjavec is an immigrant from Croatia who owns a world renowned computer security company in Canada. He is most known for being a “Shark” on the hit TV show “Shark Tank” (Joel has repeatedly submitted 1st and 2nd round applications to the show). In the video below, Robert shared his story of his father’s immense sacrifices to give him a better life.

Also in honor of Father’s Day, we’re launching two pottery giveaways:

  • Giveaway #1 is for new Cosmic Mug and Moon Mug customers.
  • Giveaway #2 is for everyone.

Giveaway #1 of 2: “Lunar Bowl” $325+ value

*(ENDED 11pm 6/19/2017. Winner: Sherry E.)

Today and tomorrow only, we are releasing all of our current stock of Cosmic Mugs and our current stock of Moon Mugs. Anyone who buys one or more of these new Cosmic Mugs or Moon Mugs released today and tomorrow will be entered into a drawing. One random customer will win this lunar bowl, included with their order at no extra charge.

If they’re sold out or too expensive for you, don’t worry! Joel will be releasing more Cosmic Mugs, including $79 Random Cosmic Mugs, $49 Flawed Cosmic Mugs and Moon Mugs before July. Stay tuned! For you pottery fans who are waiting for these great deals and on a budget, we’ve got something special for you too.

 Giveaway #2 of 2: Free World Record Pottery

You can win one of three pieces of art history from Joel’s epic achievement with the Guinness World Records™ title for ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual.’ Simply answer the questions below in our comments to enter:

What is the most valuable lesson your father taught you? How did it shape you into the person you are today? 

If you didn’t grow up with a father, please feel free to leave a comment about a lesson any other important person in your life taught you. Leave a comment below before this Friday telling us. We’ll pick the best 3 comments and give each winner a random World Record Pot and even more pottery ($767.00 value: $159 World Record Pottery + $20 packing and shipping average each, Spiral Bowl for $185 + $20 shipping, a copy of “A Potter’s Book” by Bernard Leach at $25 average value) given to 5 random winners, totally free!

To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment, or the moderator will not approve your comment or include you in the giveaway. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow 24-48 hours for your comment to appear. You must also be on our email newsletter distribution list to qualify, so please make sure you are okay with receiving our email newsletter before you leave a comment. We will pick winners Friday around 2pm Central and you will receive the pottery shipped to you nearly anywhere globally, totally free. *ENDED: Congrats to our winners Carol, Jerry, Olivia, Ashlei and Steph. Thanks so much to everyone for participating!

Birthday Pots: 29 Freebies

Cool facts about the number 29:

  • The atomic number of Copper (Cu)
  • The number of years it takes the planet Saturn to orbit the Sun
  • Iowa is the 29th state in the US- I grew up in Iowa! No, I didn’t grow up on a farm 🌽🌽
  • My age. Today is my 29th birthday!

To celebrate, we’re giving away 29 pots, totally free. Plus, we put together a bunch of discount deals and one donation to a great cause:

30% off Cosmic Bowls + one FREE World Record Planter

50% off Remaining World Record Planters

– Coupon Code: GWR50 valid through Friday.

Nuka Cobalt Vase + 50% donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with $50 starting bid.

($425 Value: $385 + $40 packing and shipping average)

🎁🎉 Birthday Pottery Giveaway 🎁🎉

29 Free Pots Going To 9 Winners, $771.00 Value, Totally Free:

  • Sets of 4 “Cosmic Shot Cups” going out to 6 different winners ($378 value: $48 retail + $15 packing and shipping each)
  • Two “Lunar Cups” going out to two different winners ($214 value: $95 retail + $12 packing and shipping each)
  • World Record Planter #29: ($179 value: $159 retail + $20 packing and shipping)

Enter the Giveaway:

What was the last thing you gifted or donated to someone, and why?? Leave a comment below before this Friday telling us one thing you gifted to a friend, donated to a local food shelter, non-profit organization, school, church, anything! We’ll pick the best 9 comments and give each winner a certain selection of the above 29 pots ($771.00 value) totally free.

To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment, or the moderator will not approve your comment or include you in the giveaway. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow 24-48 hours for your comment to appear. You must also be on our email newsletter distribution list to qualify, so please make sure you are okay with receiving our email newsletter before you leave a comment. We will pick winners Friday around 2pm Central and you will receive the pottery shipped to you nearly anywhere globally, totally free.

*UPDATE 5/12: ENDED. Congrats Kristie, J.B.S., Diandra, James H., Dorthy, Michael, Amy, Leslie and Stephanie! You should have an email waiting in your inbox. Thanks so much to everyone who participated! I’m truly blown away by all of the kindness that all of you shared about the ways you spread generosity. Thanks again! – Joel

Coupons and Giveaway Expire Friday 5/12

Please give us a couple days to pack and ship, because I plan to spend my birthday busting out a few fresh pots and guitar riffs.

“There’s something about the physicality of clay…a worthless material to most people. Contractors can’t build in it, farmers can’t grow in it. The only worth it has is what you and I give it.”

– Don Reitz, quoted in this video interview.

store.cherricopottery.com/big-pots

Why We Treat Everyday Like Earth Day: Beautiful, Simple Ways To Be More Environmentally Friendly

*This is a guest blog post, edited by Joel Cherrico and written by Macy Kelly: CSB/SJU Marketing Intern at Cherrico Pottery. In this post, Macy addresses the ways we practice being eco-friendly at Cherrico Pottery. 

I’ve never met anyone who loves getting a box filled with packing peanuts. We know, they make a mess. At Cherrico Pottery, it’s important that we deliver your pottery as safely and as eco-friendly as possible. That’s why our peanuts are 100% biodegradable. Sustainability is a fun challenge that we take on in multiple parts of the Cherrico Pottery process.

Packing and Shipping

During Kickstarter, we used over 1,000 egg cartons to ship 1,000 pots. Egg cartons can always be requested via email during the checkout process in place of the biodegradable packing peanuts. When a shipment from Cherrico Pottery arrives, you will see the logo hand-painted on each box. This is because there is no point in branding with paper stickers or stamps on the boxes when we strive to be as unique and real as possible, while keeping the artistic vibe alive.

In The Studio

Joel sacrificed natural gas kiln firings and Copper Red Glazes, even though he used to get gorgeous results. You can view and learn about them in these three blog posts:

Gas Firing Stoneware Pottery at Cone 10: Natural Variations in the Copper Red Glaze

Glazing Handmade Ceramics at Cone 10: Painting with Fire

Copper Red Glazes: The Elusive Bright Red Pottery

His business model is devoted to long-term environmentalism. Gas kilns are easier to load and can produce beautiful pottery in bigger batches, but natural gas is a non-renewable resource. It doesn’t give opportunities to utilize free solar energy raining down from the sky. Electricity does. The electric kiln is not more environmentally friendly currently, but solar energy has the power to change that.

Kiln placement is another simple, smart choice that saves energy. Joel’s kiln is located in the middle of the studio, so it doubles as a radiant heater all winter. He also dries pottery using the heat of the kiln, saving energy and money every time he fires by being able to turn off other heaters.

Saving energy can be simple and beautiful, even with an act as simple as bringing pots outside to dry in the sun instead of using fans.

After taking a three day workshop from Steven Hill Pottery, Joel learned how to successfully apply up to 8 glaze layers on one pot. In this video, you can learn some of Steven Hill’s process too.

Cosmic Mugs have 4-5 layers of glaze each, but Joel chose not to purchase steel spray guns that Steven uses to get his magnificent colors. Spray guns require energy to fill a compressed air tank, as well as a spray booth to catch the airborne glaze chemicals. Instead, Joel created innovative ways to get similar effects simply using brushes.

It’s the same reason Joel uses kick wheels to make pottery rather than electric, motorized wheels.

Why Donations Relate to Environmentalism

Businesses aren’t required to use environmentally friendly materials or donate anything, ever. Cherrico Pottery has shipped worldwide to 16 countries, so we think it is only right to explore how we can help make the earth a better place. All of these donations are impacting the world in positive ways:

What’s Next? 

Our goal is to break ground on a new pottery studio that supports future pottery production with 100% solar fired pottery. This is a ridiculously ambitious goal, but not out of reach. If Tesla can debut an entire product launch on stored sunlight, then it must be possible to power a kiln.

If you want to help us accomplish this goal, please consider buying a pot.

🎁🎉 April Pottery Giveaway 🎁🎉

What’s one thing you do to encourage environmental sustainability? Leave a comment below before this Friday telling us one thing you do to try and be more environmentally friendly in your daily life, your job, hobbies, travel, anything! Joel will pick the best 3 comments and give them one of three pots ($459 value) totally free: World Record planter #26/159 ($159 value + $20 packing & shipping), one Cosmic Mug inspired by a Planetary Nebula ($125 + $15 packing & shipping) and one Cosmic Mug inspired by a Molecular Cloud Cluster ($125 + $15 packing & shipping).

To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment, or the moderator will not approve your comment or include you in the giveaway. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow 24-48 hours for your comment to appear. You must also be on our email newsletter distribution list to qualify, so please make sure you are signed up. Joel will pick one winner Friday around 6pm Central and you will receive the pottery shipped to you nearly anywhere globally, totally free.

*UPDATE 4/28: ENDED. Congrats Holly, Liz and Kelsey and thanks so much to everyone who participated! Did you know that the word, “solar” was mentioned on this post/comments about 27 times and the words “recycle” and “recycling” and “recyclable” were mentioned about 275 times WOW! I hope you had as much fun reading these comments as I did. – Joel

The Art of Throwing Pottery on a Kick Wheel

*This is a guest blog post, edited by Joel Cherrico and written by Macy Kelly: CSB/SJU Marketing Intern at Cherrico Pottery. In this post, Macy addresses fan questions from Cherrico Pottery Facebook Live videos about why Joel uses traditional kick-wheels instead of electric, motorized wheels like most potters. 

You may be wondering why Joel Cherrico kicks his pottery wheel around and around, instead of simply pressing a motorized pedal and letting the wheel do the work. He learned to make pottery on an electric wheel in high school and understands that it might be easier, faster and less stress on the body, but he chooses otherwise.

There’s more to art than the end product. 

All Cherrico Pottery is crafted on two different types of kick wheels: the Karatsu-style wheel and the York wheel. Both have advantages and disadvantages, like portability and weight, that are taken into consideration before any clay is “thrown” (the term “throwing pottery” comes from the Old English word, “thrawan” meaning to twist or turn.)

Karatsu-style Kick Wheel

The Karatsu kick wheel was handmade by a local woodworker who used wood from a local Maple tree. Sanded, finished wood is beautiful, which is often why Joel decides to perform his pottery craft on this wheel. The bench was made from White Cedar from the Minnesota North Shore.

Joel bought his 20-year-old Karatsu wheel used, after working as a production thrower at Prairie Fire Pottery in 2014. After two weeks working at Prairie Fire Pottery, the studio generously paid him enough money to return home with profit to purchase the Karatsu wheel from his former pottery mentor Sam Johnson. The wheel was built to last a lifetime.

When Joel broke the Guinness World Records title for “most pots thrown in one hour by an individual” the Karatsu kick wheel was a key factor. Previous potters who attempted the record all used electric wheels, and the previous record holder used an electric wheel to throw 150 pots in one hour. You can watch Joel set the new record on his Karatsu-style wheel here, breaking the previous record by nine pots.

Unlike electric wheels, you can’t just crank the motor and power through the clay. It takes training, balance and a deep understanding of how to throw pottery while kicking at the same time. Artistry and athleticism are equally important. 40 pounds is extremely light for a pottery wheel, so there is no momentum to keep the wheel spinning unless it is constantly kicked. You can learn how Joel used meditation and intense physical training to accomplish this epic feat.

The wheel is so lightweight that it must be anchored to a board, held in place by the potter’s body. Downward force makes the potter and the wheel joined in the act of throwing.

Karatsu wheels are rare. It’s tough to buy or find one anywhere. You can learn how they’re made by reading “Body of Clay, Soul of Fire” or finding a local wood worker who might be able to craft a replica. You might even be able to reach out to the St. John’s Pottery directly and respectfully inquire about the process of learning how to use and obtain one of these rare wheels, which were originally brought to the Minnesota area by renowned potter Richard Bresnahan.

This awesome YouTube video shows an artist crafting an Onggi kick wheel, which is a type of precursor to the Karatsu wheel. Onggi wheels have been used for centuries for larger pottery, generally over three feet tall. There are similarities between the two, but both are hard to find for purchase. Any talented crafts person could design and create a gorgeous, functional Karatsu or Onggi-style kick wheel.

York Kick Wheel

The second wheel used to craft Cherrico Pottery is the York kick wheel, shown below. It’s only about 16 inches tall, made from a cement mold around metal bearings. To raise the wheel to a proper throwing height, Joel crafted a Black Walnut top with White Oak risers, which are secured to the wheel like a pottery bat. The 24 inch height helps improve throwing posture, since older potters commonly struggle with back pain from bending over low wheels for decades.

The York weighs around 80 pounds, which is twice as much as the 40 pound Karatsu, but it’s actually more portable. It sits on three steel feet, so it does not need to be bolted down. It can be picked up, moved anywhere and taken apart in two pieces. Easy assembly and light weight make it extremely portable, compared to commonly used Lockerbie kick wheels weighing around 300 pounds each.

The York wheel has been great for performing pottery demonstrations all across the Midwest. In 2013, Joel used it up to five times weekly at local farmers’ markets and art festivals (left photo) and he brings it to Duluth Art in Bayfront Park in front of Lake Superior once annually (right photo).

It was created by Roger York in 2008. Joel purchased it from Mr. York during his sophomore year in college, after they spoke on the phone a few times about Mr. York’s career as a potter and his decision to make wheels. The wheel took him four months to craft and he only charged $250. He was 87 years old. Mr. York published the patent online here for free and you might be able to find one on craigslist someday. If you find one available, please email us here: contact@cherricopottery.com. Most people don’t know how to use this wheel and would gladly sell it for cheap. Joel was recently gifted a second York wheel for free, so he can put it to good use.

The York wheel is considered the “work horse” of Cherrico Pottery because of how this durable tool can travel easily. Rope is wrapped around Joel’s wheel because he used it so much that the thin middle piece (shown below) began to crack. The middle, cement section was wrapped with an entire roll of duck tape for strength, followed by rope for aesthetics.

Left: York kick wheel without rope. Right: York kick wheel reinforced with tape and rope.

Both Karatsu and York kick wheels are currently used to create all Cherrico Pottery. Next time you see Joel spinning pottery live on the Cherrico Pottery Facebook page, try and guess which kick wheel he is using.

Electric Pottery Wheels

If you are looking for a simple, easy wheel for learning pottery, Joel recommends the Brent electric wheel. It’s affordable and practical for beginners and advanced potters. High school Joel actually made his first pots on a Brent in 2005. He used the same style of Brent to create a 400+ pound planter in under 5 hours back in 2012.

Renowned potter/sculptor Don Reitz used Brent wheels to make his signature Abstract Expressionist clay works. Reitz powered through hundreds of pounds of clay with ease. Joel captured Reitz throwing two wheelbarrows of clay in two days during a workshop in Arizona titled, “Potters as Sculptors, Sculptors as Potters.” You can learn about Joel’s direct experience learning from Don Reitz in his American Craft Council Authorship here or view the artwork that Joel created since soaking up inspiration from Reitz in the BIG pots section of the Cherrico Pottery store.

What is one thing that you have learned from watching Joel throw pottery on his kick wheels in his YouTube or Facebook videos? Share your newly acquired art knowledge in the comment section below.

Giveaway 

Thanks so much for reading this post and for following Cherrico Pottery. Please subscribe to our email newsletter here and leave a comment below before this Friday telling us one thing you have learned about Joel’s pottery or Cherrico Pottery in general. Joel will pick the best comment about the best lesson one person has learned, and pick them to receive one free Cosmic Mug. To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment about something you have actually learned from us, or the moderator will not approve your comment and include you in the giveaway. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow 24-48 hours for your comment to appear. You must also be on the newsletter distribution list to qualify. Joel will pick one winner Friday around 6pm Central to get one of our best Cosmic Mugs, totally free. Thanks!

Where Will You Be One Year From Today?

One year ago today, the Cherrico Pottery Team and a group of close friends documented me setting the World Record for ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual.’ You can view the official record here or actually watch a video of me setting the record here:

A lot changed in one year. Tens of thousands of new fans started following my artwork and our Facebook live videos have been “going viral,” which is just a fancy term for getting popular. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly gratified that so many people are inspired by my art and career. The Cherrico Pottery Team and I are doing everything we can to serve these new followers and customers (make sure you are signed up for our email newsletter to snag any new pottery when it emerges from the kiln). It’s just that popularity doesn’t seem like a good goal.

Better goals entail crafting gorgeous art, serving customers in a thriving business, supporting an artist lifestyle and making the world a better place. Building something long-lasting and beautiful seems more helpful and honorable than building something popular.

With that that mind, this is my goal for the next year:

“One year from today, my goal is to break ground on a new pottery studio that supports future pottery production with 100% solar fired pottery.”

This goal is ambitious and has never been done before. It has that in common with setting the pottery Guinness World Record on a Kickwheel (the previous record of 150 pots was set on an electric, motorized wheel).

I might not accomplish my goal, and that’s okay. This is the mindset I had when attempting the pottery World Record and it served me well. If you have an ambitious goal and fall short, you’re still headed towards success. Anytime I embraced this mindset, my efforts filtered into other surprising successes, like when celebrity Tim Ferriss made new YouTube videos and a Cosmic Mug popped up in the background, or when I got a personalized letter from Neil deGrasse TysonHe’s the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC and host of StarTalk Radio and StarTalk on National Geographic Channel. He was one of the initial people who inspired creation of Cosmic Mugs back in 2014.

You might fall short with an ambitious goal, but you often fall into a higher level of accomplishment than you might have ever thought possible. Plus, the “worst case scenario” probably isn’t that bad. Tim Ferriss has a great TED Talk that illustrates the incredible power of questions like, “What’s the worst that can happen?

Journaling helps. These bullet points are a summary of my journal entry from a year ago. They describe my “worst case scenario” plan for a failed GWR attempt:

  • Try again in one week. The record requires 350 pounds of clay and I have over 1,000. I can try again at least once more without consequences.
  • Determine exactly what went wrong. Remove the hindrance through practice for a minimum of 1 hour, twice daily.
  • Fire the practice planters and sell them for $5-10 each to cover costs. People bought nearly all 1,000+ practice planters in 2015, so they are a guaranteed sale.
  • If you injure your back (side note: I threw out my back practicing for the record) then add one more week for a recovery period and attempt the record in two weeks.
  • If you run out of money, sell more Cosmic Mugs to the waiting list of people who didn’t get one during Kickstarter.

That’s it! There was literally nothing else to worry about, even if I failed. That was comforting. Stress and fear melted away, my focus returned to the record and I conquered it.

What are your goals? Where do you want to be one year from now? Leave a comment at the end of this post telling us something you want to accomplish, a place you want to live, a career or personal goal, any goal.

(GIVEAWAY RULES: Leave a comment on this post telling us about your “one year goal” before Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 5pm Central and we’ll enter you to win GWR pot #101 totally free. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced in these blog comments the same Friday around 6pm Central. To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment about your “one year goal” or the moderator will not approve your comment. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow 24-48 hours for your comment to appear. Thanks! *ENDED. Giveaway Winner: Comment #105, Christa”).

This post was published March 7th, 2017, but it might live here on the internet for decades. Whenever you happen to read this post, share one goal you hope to accomplish one year from now. Put it in the comments below, visible to anyone. Mark your calendar to check back one year from now. What’s the worst that can happen?

To accomplish great things, it’s often important to selectively ignore popularity, red notifications and the intoxicating smart phone buzz. Focus on setting and achieving goals.

Musical Gold Mine Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! I just wanted to let all of you know how thankful I am that you are following my artwork and supporting our small team here at Cherrico Pottery.

As a full-time potter, I really appreciate all of your support. Whether you purchased pottery for your home, as a gift for someone else or if you simply shared a pottery Faceboook videothank you so much.

This blog post is dedicated to the five musicians featured in all of our Facebook live videosWriting and recording original music is incredibly difficult. Even just finding enough good music for one song requires countless hours of practice, sifting through a plethora of junk for just a few minutes of beauty. It’s like mining for gold.

These five bands pour their hearts into their work. They are all friends of mine and I’m honored to be able to throw pots to their groovy tunes so often. Please consider snagging a CD from them so you can support and enjoy their music too:

Blookah

facebook.com/blookahmusic

Dylan Mcfarling

facebook.com/dylanmcfarling

Paul Spring

facebook.com/paulspringmusic

The Gibby Hibbies

facebook.com/gibbyhibbies

Ucis

facebook.com/ucis13

As far as new pottery goes, I’m busting out fresh pots daily. Please stay tuned for upcoming deals, like our $49 Random Cosmic Mugs coming later this month. Please make sure to double check that you are signed up for our email newsletter here if you want to guarantee that you get a notice as soon as new Cosmic Mugs are available, as pots tend to sell quickly.

Thanks again and Happy Valentine’s Day! – Joel and the Cherrico Pottery Team

Photos by Caitlin Brutger and by Nicole Pederson

“…a good design in pottery is the product of tension or ‘dialectic’ between the demands of pure utility and those of pure beauty, and only a long experience and continual struggle enables you to achieve a successful fusion of the two.”

– Quoted in “Michael Cardew, a portrait” by Garth Clark, pg. 46