Stoic Pottery: How Ancient Philosophy Inspires Cosmic Mugs

“Watch the stars in their courses and imagine yourself running alongside them. Think constantly on the changes of the elements into each other, for such thoughts wash away the dust of earthly life.” – Marcus Aurelius, quoted in “The Daily Stoic”

The Ceramic process is almost like magic. Clay, water and earth elements change through fire to create gorgeous coffee mugs.

“As cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson has explained, the cosmos fills us with complicated emotions. On the one hand, we feel an infinitesimal smallness in comparison to the vast universe; on the other, an extreme connectedness to this larger whole.” – Ryan Holiday, quoted in “The Daily Stoic”

Have you ever wondered why I call them “Cosmic Mugs” (cosmicmugs.com) instead of “galaxy” or “nebula” or “stellar” mugs? Art is complicated, and “cosmic” seems like a better word to convey all the complexities inherent to pottery vs. factory made mugs.

“Stoicism” helps me wrestle with these ideas. It helps me ask, “What is most appropriate and honest?” It helps me realize that pottery can be tough, and that even if I get a bad batch of pots, I can recover and make more. If pots have rough textures, that might require building an entire section of our website devoted to explaining it. As renowned artist Richard Bresnahan says,

“It’s 1/3 the artist, it’s 1/3 the material and it’s 1/3 the firing. If you think that you’re going to expect to have control over the 1/3 of the firing, you’re going to be always disappointed.”

– Richard Bresnahan, “The Taste of Clay”

If you’re wrestling with ideas in your own art or struggles in your own life, you might benefit from stoic ideas too. This giveaway that my friends at The Daily Stoic are hosting is a great way to get introduced:

Daily Stoic Giveaway

These two Cosmic Mugs were mailed off to two modern day Stoic authors: Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss

The Daily Stoic (dailystoic.com) has helped me look more deeply into why I wake up everyday and make pots. You can learn about how a contemporary stoic book called, “The Obstacle Is The Way” helped me train for the pottery Guinness World Recoreds title here:

How Meditation Helped Me Set A Pottery World Record

Stoicism sounds boring, but the benefits in my life and pottery career have been remarkable. This giveaway has a bunch of amazing “stoic” items and it’s a great way to get your feet wet in how these ideas might be able to help you:

Daily Stoic Giveaway

No, I’m not getting paid to say this, I’m just a huge fan and have seen remarkable benefits in my own life and business. If you are struggling with anything, then I just thought you might benefit stoicism too. Here is what I find most useful and valuable:

Watch Joel Cherrico set the pottery Guinness World Records title for ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual’

What resources or tools help you get through tough times in your life?

Leave a comment below before Monday 8/28/2017 telling us what resources or tools have helped you get through tough times in your life. We’ll pick the best comment and send the winner one World Record Pottery Planter, ($179 value: $159 + 20 average packing and shipping) shipped almost anywhere globally, 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 up to 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 before the following Wednesday around 2pm Central and you will receive the pottery shipped to you nearly anywhere globally, totally free. 

61 comments

  1. “The Ceramic process is almost like magic. Clay, water and earth elements change through fire to create gorgeous coffee mugs.” ……. just beautiful! Your connection to your art and the universe within is inspiring, and lovely. You are a good human 💫✌🙏

  2. My canvases, brushes, and paint. Sometimes you just have to escape and get into your creative world to unwind and detox from all that’s going on in the world today.

  3. My biggest motivator is my son. Whenever I feel like quitting, I remember he is watching me. I’ve also let him see me fail so he can see it’s possible to get back up and be even stronger than before! I just hit 2 years cigarette free. When I told my son I was quitting, he told me I wouldn’t make it. I then told him that was a little harsh … his response… “If I tell you that you can’t, you will!” He’s my rock!

  4. I rely on my faith in Jesus to get me through all the tough times life throws at me. I know that my faith only grows stronger with each trial I go through.

  5. As a fiber artist I will say that natural wool is my meditation, my source of calm and my inspiration to create. I enjoy the entire process from processing fleece to spinning the fiber on a wheel to then knitting the yarn into a garment. My art has gotten me through some very dark times.

  6. In tough times I pray and at 62 actually have learned to be patient and wait! I string pearls and hand knot each 1 into place ! I cook from scratch then because it’s only use 2 I freeze most of it till family comes as then I can thaw and visit and know we will have a good meal ! I look for non chemical raised food which is a job in itself these days to cook! I’ve finally learned to relax from a life of working 2 jobs raising children! And value my time alone or with family as you grow older family and friends fall like leaves on a tree and you learn it’s how it’s meant to be as you turn around and see those new leaves come and grow ! Ty for the chance to put this into words!

  7. When I’m going through a tough time, I find solace through walks in nature. Bringing a camera with me on these walks (film only,I leave my dslr home during this “me time”), and creating images that no one other than me will ever see or understand, revives my energy.

  8. I have always turned to my Soldier’s Bible, and hard rock in my ear buds. My grandmother gave the Bible to me the day I left for Iraq, with several verses marked, and it was always with me when I was on a mission. I get into my groove with the music and tune out all the distractions around me to concentrate on the task at hand. I have found over the years that the louder the music is, the more productive I have been. It is my form of meditation.

  9. To get through life, the greatest thing that has helped me and will continue to help me is my endearing faith in God and knowing he is always there for me no matter what. Beyond my unshakeable faith would be my close family, friends and boyfriend who are there for me no matter what through everything. Fighting multiple rare diseases and cancer for 6 years and still going makes it difficult and the thought of giving up creeps in, however through the things listed above I continue to fight on one day at a time.

  10. Hello, I’m french. Every d’autres I draw ! Je continue en français, sur des pierres du papier, du carton, des toiles, des boîtes, du bois… Ma vie est faite de couleurs et de mots. Bravo pour votre travail. Françoise

  11. Some things that have helped me through tough times in my life are meditation, just listening to my inner voice… sometimes breathing slowly, and telling myself that everything is going to be ok.. also, walking on the beach at night under the moon and stars, laying on the sand and just staring at the moon and the horizon… , to release stress, I like to walk, or exercise…. or just getting my car and driving with no direction… the fresh air… the breeze… in general nature helps me a lot to cope with my problems.

  12. I think one of the biggest resources I use to get through tough times is my faith in God. I recently separated from my husband and am now raising our daughter. I could give up and say it’s just too hard but instead prayer and talking to my mother have really helped. I sit down, have a coffee and continue my day. Sometimes crying in the bathroom helps lol

  13. Music to soothe the soul and writing to free my thoughts. I’ve also found that Yoga and Pilates help my body and mind when I am anxious or feeling down.

  14. Music heals my soul. Keeping in touch with nature keeps me grounded and feeling alive. Taking care of my family keeps me looking towards future. Having animals around, I love seeing how the cows are grazing in my back
    yard medows, it helps me put my mind at ease…I stop for a moment and enjoy all that beautiful view that nature offers me. 🙏🏻💚🙏🏻 Peace and Love 🙏🏻💚🙏🏻

  15. Nature. We live on 5 acres in an agricultural area. The wind blowing through our wind chimes, the sun basking on my face as I walk my 3 mile walk, and in the spring I enjoy the new life of the baby calves as their mamas keep them close. These are what get me through those rough times!

  16. I started to do mosaic art after we lost one of our twins at 11 days old. It helped me cope with is loss while our other twin fought hard in the NICU (born 23 weeks). I have found that mosaic is peaceful and such beautiful art can come from break pieces. I’m still learning and very much a beginner it also clears my head while I sing along to my favorite songs.

  17. I like to spend time with my grandchildren. Take them to the vegetable market to pick their own vegetables. Help shuck the corn they will eat. Take others fishing to catch dinner. Teach them how to be sustainable. Just spending quality time with family and be thankful for what I have, I am blessed.

  18. What has come forward as my saving grace in times of strife these days is actually source. Our deep connection and union with the great power and higher being that guide our vessel in this fun filled and often tumultuous journey. It’s only through some of the most raw and unravelled experiences that I have met myself and found this ever present flowing source within. It’s not an easy practice, calming the tides so as to maintain my own compass and co-create with my higher being, it is so very rewarding though and quite frankly it is also what guided me to find this fabulous and abundant resource of life living artistic expression. What gets me through is universal connection and knowing I am not alone. That I am a part of a greater whole and that I am not helpless, but in fact the very opposite and that it must be shared.

    All the best.
    Mel.

  19. Clay! Surprise! Lol. Coming from a rough upbringing I was into drugs and drinking by the time I was thirteen. High school comes around and I got put in a ceramics class, fell in love, all history from there. Currently teach ceramics and my biggest motivator is hope that I can run into others struggling, and help them realize that a little art really does go a long way

  20. Fiber and yarn are my canvas of choice. I lost my mom two years ago and I have harnessed that pain by learning from it. Aside from my newer issues I gained from being her caregiver for 4 years, I found meditation that slowly started helping me refocus. It led me to Kyle Cease and his practices. Someone shared a post many months ago of Joel making his pottery live so I decided to watch. I find it calming to watch other artists create. He mentioned The Daily Stoic. I can’t even begin to say how learning about stoicism and its principles have helped me in my life and open my creativity. Nature and color play are also very important to me and my work. Being as close to nature helps me balance who I am, it grounds me and everything I do. Color theory is a big part of yarn dyeing, felting, and fiber work. Being able to utilize color around me to inspire and create makes it easier to put creativity in everything I do.

  21. Baking helps me get through tough times. It takes me back to a time with my grandmother when I didn’t have a care in the world and all I saw was love. It makes me feel good to make things from scratch and to see the smile on people’s faces when I give it to them. Especially when I am able to give it to those in need.

  22. I’m not Artistic by no means, but I have a daughter that gave me advice to help me get through the toughest times. She is 11, She loves to draw, sing, play softball. She is super smart and caring. She saw me struggling with some anxiety, she came over to me and was like mom, “Whenever you feel as if you can’t breathe, close your eyes. Think of anything you want. Something you’d like to see, somewhere you’d like to go. When you close your eyes you can become and do anything you can imagine. She is like write it down. then when times get to you again, turn and read what you’ve wrote. continue to write what you imagine.” So my 11 year old is my saving grace and my safe place. So I turn to writing.

  23. In the next few weeks I am going to start spinning, running and walking to keep my mind and body healthy, it has helped me in the past and as my beautiful mum passed away on 16th Aug this year and I’m in deep organising everything on my own and the emotions are raw but when I can I go for a walk at the moment. I do love the way exercise gives you a buzz even though it can be hard.
    Also my 16 year old son who sings beautifully in his choirs and watching him grow and perform gives me inner peace.

  24. The ability to vent to someone that holds no judgement, is a great listener and more often then not offers sound advice. I also journal a lot.

  25. My father always said, “Don’t worry about the things you can’t change, focus on the things you CAN”. Being an empath, those words helped me through a whole lot of situations to keep my sanity.

  26. There are 3 major things that help me in the hard times are my faith, hiking, & music. When I’m able to connect with nature, it makes me feel closer to my creator. It’s the closest form of worship I know, for me personally, other than singing. When I feel close to my creator, I feel a sense of peace & calm. I feel safe. If I can’t get outside for a hike, for whatever reason, I put in my earbuds & turn on my music and breathe it in. Sometimes I sing out loud in worship and sometimes I just listen & breathe.

  27. What brings me the most happiness and peace is without a doubt is my family. Next would have to be painting. This includes both painting pictures and the walls of my home. Lastly is cooking. I love creating healthy food harvested from this amazing planet we live on. 💞

    Thank you for this tremendous giveaway. I have admired Joel’s work for a long time but have never been able to obtain one of his pieces. I would be so grateful to finally have one.

  28. During tough times, I turn to many things. I enjoy music, long walks, nature, reading, and writing. Really, the common factor is appreciation. Taking a step back and refocusing the mind and spirit away from the negative and the mundane. Sometimes it is the miniscule superficial aspects of the world that we have to slough off ourselves. Every negative energy grabs at us, sticks and cakes on. I have found that the best cure is to stop right where you are and appreciate the beauty and magic of the world and the mystery of the ocean and the universe. Listening and feeling truly grateful for the flight of a butterfly, the glow from the moon, the cool crisp air, the song of the tree frog. Everything that is beautiful on this planet and the cosmos is what inspires us to try to replicate that feeling in art. Art is the worship of life and if you allow yourself to be taken in by every little piece of magic, you can endure anything.

  29. Crocheting seems to relax my mind. It’s very rewarding to make something with your hands.
    This was taught to me by my grandmother.

  30. Dogs! While I love being in nature and find it relaxing. And I enjoy looking at the stars. The one thing that is always guaranteed to put a smile on my face is dogs. I could get through anything with a dog at my side.

  31. Hula hooping. I have severe depression. Sometimes I get in these spells where it can last for weeks. Hard to wake up in the mornings and function at work. I disconnect with the world and forget who I am. Hooping gets me through that dark phase. It helps me reconnect my mind and soul and become more alive.

  32. What has helped me through some very tough times is being able lock my emotions away and let others rely on me to get things done. When I found my dads body I had to be my moms rock. I didn’t shed a tear for months because she needed me to be strong. When we didn’t have power for 5 days after a tornado hit here in 2011. I was also doing online college classes. I didn’t take any time off and made every assignment on time. My grandmother’s place was destroyed by the tornado so we had to build her a place. It was crazy. Glad those times are over with. Now I tend to keep to myself and watch pearl reveal parties to handle my stress and it just helps shut off my brain for a little while.

  33. For me it is meditation and crocheting. I took up crochet just over a year ago and find it a great distraction from my worries as well as gifting me a creative outlet. Meditation has been part of my life for almost 7 years and gives my irrational, overthinking mind a chance at peace.

  34. Journaling! This practice has been my lifeline since the age of 13. Even at 16 years old, when I was troubled and deemed a “chronic runaway” I would gather scraps of paper anywhere I could and express my thoughts and my heart through journal entries; essays, poetry, wordlists, you name it.

    Fortunately, I quite outgrew the runaway stage and put my love of words to use by entering college as a fiction writing major. Eventually I became a professional court reporter, honoring and documenting the voices and lives of The People. However, creative expression is still in my heat and evolves with each passing day.

    I have now passed on this love and this life-saving outlet to my little boy.

    Words are powerful. They are our thoughts and the music of our souls. It’s just the melody is a little different.

    P.S. Music was a terrible close second to journaling. So hard to choose! Best wishes. Your art is truly inspired and inspiring. See you in the stars!

  35. My resources for a wonderful life !!

    Spirituality 🙏
    Love ❤️
    Music 🎶
    Meditation✌️
    Yoga 👌
    Family and friends 🤗

  36. I always listen to music, or play or sing. It definitely helps me. I also crochet and knot so I can get lost in a project and it’s pretty awesome. ✌🏻❤️🌻

  37. I find my peace, healing and rejuvenation after the loss of my newborn son (3 years ago, this Sunday the 27th), through making music, belly dance and expressing myself artistically in any way possible. I love to restore furniture as well. Taking something that has been tarnished or broken and making it shine again, really gives me hope and I find a sense of strength in it.

  38. I continuously keep hobbies that keep me busy, focused, challenged… so I don’t have time for the tough times. Give those to God. I love to knit, sing, play piano/guitar/clarinet… I keep chickens, have 2 pugs, I take painting classes and have knit get togethers. Art is an important part of life and for some of us especially me, it is the way I express myself so…. let it shine. 🙂

  39. When things seem a little rough I can find solace in music, it keeps my mind from getting overwhelmed. I also love to crochet and make hats and scarves to pass the time. I enjoy cleaning and repairing things in my home. I enjoy reading lots of self-help and learn how books. I use Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” for inspiration, and the Faster EFT process to help me with moments that are emotionally stressful.

  40. Music. I believe the soul has a language of its own that only God fully understands. When seeking peace, I have often just started humming or ahh-ing whatever melody flows from the deepest parts of me. The result tends to be tears, followed by an incredible sense of release.

  41. Commitment and wanting something enough to not stop after things don’t go your way. The will to see it through.

    Acknowledging a feeling all the way until it is released. Noticing what keeps it stuck and accepting the possibility of any outcome.

    Pale Ale

    Meditating

    Friends

    Exercising

    Music

    Art

  42. My boys are my center. They ground me and I can only hope I do the same for them. It is because of them that I found myself and had the courage to find and pursue the creative outlet I have searched for for years. I entered cosmetology school one week after I turned 40, and discovered that hair is my canvas. I love my boys for all that they are. 💙💚❤️

  43. Creating soap helps me. I love the focus and creativity it takes to come up with a great batch, helps keep me centered.

  44. As an artist, creating helps me through tough times, but what helps me the most and fills my heart with joy is being able to help innocent creatures in need, specially dogs and cats.

  45. Prayer and my relationship with God gets me through the hard times and ruff spots also music softens the surroundings

  46. I go to the ocean. It resets me. Being near the ocean , breathing the salty air and hearing the sounds is the most calming thing to me. I feel like the ocean centers me. I feel a deep peace there.

  47. When im feeling uninspired, I surround myself with things I love. And when the day is long, and the nights are sad, and im trying to find Gods way but I just can’t seem to hear him, I look inside myself and ponder my very existence. Like an observer, spectating the crowd that is my mind. When that doesn’t work, and the music isn’t helping and meditating isn’t cutting it and my soul is being blocked by fear and pain, or whatever it may be. I talk to my Dad. He connects everything to Jesus, and gives me a perspective I never could have thought of on my own.

  48. I took the Gratitude Leadership training in South Florida. It provided awareness around my blindspots and self-limiting beliefs. It taught me that I am whole. I have everything that I need to create extraordinary results through vision and committed action. The tools I learned combined with meditation and journaling ground me in my day and in my vision for the world and my life.

    1. Fantastic. Simple, structured and effective. Studying subjects from a teacher or class, and then practicing towards mastery daily, works great for me too. Congrats, Jim! You win! An email is coming your way with one “World Record Planter” shipped to you, totally free.

      1. Thank you so much for the acknowledgement and gift! I am grateful for the opportunity to share and for the space you created for everyone to share their practices and experiences.

  49. In my toughest time- when my husband was killed in Irag- and my faith in god wavered A LOT because I was so angry, I relied on the support of people who had been through the same thing, and professionals who could teach me to understand my feelings. Their wisdom and insights helped me know that everything I was feeling was completely valid and normal for such an abnormal situation. They enlightened me and opened up my way of thinking. That inspired me to go back to school. The more knowledge I gained the more I could understand why I felt the way I did. I’m 12 years widowed now and very happy with who I’ve become and the new, supportive family I’ve built around me, though I will never stop loving or missing my late husband. You never know who strong you can be until you have to be.

  50. I love laying outside and looking up at the stars. When I was younger I imagined the stars in the sky as all of the problems in the world. Got took each trouble or worry and allowed them to light up the sky. There is good in the trouble times however we are too blinded by the bad to see the good. Every time I look up into the starry sky, I thank God for allowing the tough times from our past to light the way to our future. This easing my troubles and changing the focus of my life.

  51. Sitting outside and being with nature in any kind of weather or season. I love to watch the animals, sky, scenery, it all helps take away the everyday life issues.

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