Cherrico Pottery has long been fans of Dr. Tyson’s work, specifically because he sees the value in art. He says artistic expression and scientific discovery cultivate the same emotions. It’s both a scientist’s and artist’s job to communicate the awe, splendor, and the beauty of the world around us. Dr. Tyson says that one large difference between art and science is that if a scientist doesn’t discover something in the universe, someone else will. Art, on the other hand, is something different:
Our friends at StarTalk created a video with a few reasons for why it’s important to continue art education. Dr. Tyson is an expert in the sciences, but he understands that in order to succeed and grow in scientific knowledge, you must have certain skills that aren’t always taught in science classes.
One of these skills that overlap between art and science is creativity. Dr. Tyson points out in this video that the human mind is capable of both precision and creativity. The best scientists are creative and the best artists bring some rationality and order into their artwork. What makes Joel’s Cosmic Mugs so spectacular is because he has integrated both creativity and order into each mug. The cosmic glaze on each mug is not meant to depict the cosmos, but instead, express it.
When Dr. Tyson speaks about the topic of art and science, there’s a good chance he brings up Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, Starry Night. He often says that it’s the first painting that didn’t reflect reality, but instead emotion. He says that art and science are the two of the few things we create that will last past our lifetime.
“The challenge is to do the thing you have to do because you’re in love with it and can’t do anything else. Not because you want to become rich or famous but because you will be unhappy if you can’t do it.”
There are far easier ways to grow a business than by selling pottery, but few are more satisfying. Potters use their bare hands to craft gorgeous vessels that are only finished after literally surviving a trial by fire.
Making a living as a potter means letting people eat and drink from your gorgeous art, while respectfully receiving currency for your creations. It’s an incredibly fulfilling way to live in our globalized society.
“Plenty of people can make great work. Not everyone has the dedication to make it, and to make it work. ~ Ryan Holiday, Perennial Seller
Here is a list of 5 potters from different parts of the planet who are especially skilled in the art of pottery business.
Potter Tama Smith and her husband Jerry craft and sell pottery with gorgeous, abstract glazes inspired by the North Dakota landscape. Millions of people drive by on I-94 every summer, see their pottery billboards and stop to buy pots on the way to and from the Rocky Mountains.
Shiho San (Mr. Shiho) has lived in the small town of Shigaraki, Japan for his entire life. He welcomed me into his studio last year to sit cross legged, sip espresso and hear stories of his rise to the top of Japanese Tea Ceremony prestige. We browsed his personal gallery, held $5,000 tea bowls and touched a $70k vase.
Devotion to natural materials (digging clay from his backyard, using traditional Korean kick-wheels, firing with only wood for 10 days straight) forced him to endure years of strife in his early career. Shiho San caught a break by selling tea bowls from the trunk of his car to a generous, influential Buddhist monk.
Tokyo skyscraper galleries were vying for his art within a few years. Over the decades, his art would grace the some of the most prestigious galleries atop the tallest skyscrapers in Tokyo.
Visit this Northern Minnesota studio anytime year round and you can buy a pot from an outdoor shelf. Simply leave $30 in his money jar and be on your way.
Oddly enough, someone new to ceramics could easily mistake Dick’s art for Shiho Kanzaki’s. Both make specific types of wood fired pottery inspired by the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
What do the vastly different prices say about the quality of their curiously similar art? Absolutely nothing.
Both potters mastered their craft, then worked for decades to create symbiotic relationships with their communities. Both charge and receive what they need in order to thrive.
Dick’s rural studio has been planted near Lake Superior for 30 years. The kiln, studio and his home feel native to the land, like they sprouted up with the trees. This fall, my girlfriend and I were lucky to experience and film a kiln unloading, which happens only four days per year:
Tomoo Hamada is a third generation potter, grandson of famous potter Shoji Hamada, who was a Japanese National Living Treasure. Tomoo and his father Shinsaku Hamada live and work in Mashiko, Japan.
Mashiko pottery was largely established by Hamada pottery, and now 350+ pottery studios attract people to spring and fall pottery festivals. Each festival draws 3-500k people to Mashiko to buy pottery over just a few days.
Hamada Pottery is set up as a museum with a calm, self guided tour of the gorgeous grounds. The tour ends with a pottery gallery. After buying three small plates, Tomoo welcomed us into his studio for tea and a pottery trimming demo.
Hamada Pottery also uses tech savvy means of connecting with people. Tomoo friended me on Facebook and showed me video from his wood-firing on his smartphone, while standing next to a kiln that was still warm from a recent firing.
Firing salt kiln at Hamadagama-pottery.
Ayumi Horie is an online pioneer potter. About 10 years ago, she launched an online store that has consistently, successful sold high-end coffee mugs to customers globally, almost instantly after posting her new pots.
She founded “Pots In Action” (potsinaction.com) in 2005, which uses crowd sourcing to help potters and ceramic artists connect with and educate the public about rich ceramic traditions.
Her efforts to organize online communities around pottery give people deeper reasons for supporting her body of work and pottery catalog. Other potters have referred to her as the “Queen of Social Media” and it shows in her high quality videos that help people relate to her pots through making food:
Bonus Entries: What is your favorite business or organization and why?
ENDED: Thanks for participating everyone! 3 anonymous winners were chosen and we emailed them for their free pottery and books. Plus, we even chose one more person from the comments to win another bonus Cosmic Mug. Congrats, Kristin!
Why are Joel’s mugs called “Cosmic Mugs” anyways? Wikipedia says, “Cosmic is anything pertaining to the cosmos” and the cosmos “is the Universe regarded as a complex and orderly system; the opposite of chaos.”
Our Universe is vast and mysterious, far more mysterious than what human beings can comprehend. But the cosmos also defines anything close and familiar in our modern, complex society, like a cup of coffee.
These “cosmic quotes” tell about just some reasons why Joel Cherrico chose to model the cosmos with clay and fire:
Every Cosmic Mug is crafted with this purpose in mind. Joel’s goal is to give every owner of a Cosmic Mug the chance to touch, taste and reflect on the Universe every morning by doing something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee.
Joel brings the cosmos into your home by choosing glazes that are made up of the same elements that are found in the outermost galaxies in our cosmos. Check out this early video below where Joel was first beginning to develop the ideas behind Cosmic Mugs a couple years ago:
Spirals are seen throughout the Universe and are at the foundation of Cosmic Mugs, which are formed by twisting clay on a pottery wheel. Scientists don’t know why spirals are so common, but like most things in the Universe, it is a mystery waiting to be unraveled. Read more about why spirals are so common in our Universe in this Discover Article.
One of Joel’s newest pieces in his Big Jars and Wall Platters collection brandishes a spiral as a stunning Cosmic Wall Platter. Joel modeled it after what astrophysicists have determined about the Milky Way’s spiral shape, with subtle textures and colors that are entirely an expression of the art.
Do you have a favorite quote about the cosmos? Share in the comments please!
“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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Joel Cherrico will be exhibiting and performing live pottery demonstrations on his York Kick Wheel August 19th and 20th in Duluth, Minnesota at Art in Bayfront Park. One of Joel’s best BIG pottery jars will be on display, as well as a few of his best Cosmic Mugs. This will be Joel’s 7th year participating in this festival. He will also be crafting Cosmic Mugs live and anything else he’s inspired to throw, while breathtaking Lake Superior shimmers in the background.
Just one of his Big Pots will be on display in Duluth. They take a LONG time to make. In a hurried month, Joel can throw, fire and finish 100+ Cosmic Mugs in under a week and have them ready to order, but one Big Pot takes several months from start to finish. Just the drying takes a few months! Read about how Joel creates these beautiful works of art in a blog post he wrote back in 2012:
Big Pots deserve to be displayed on a stand as beautiful as the Big Pots themselves. So, Joel and his team have been creating beautiful wooden slabs over the last month to use as pedestals. The pedestals also help to level the jars on uneven ground. Four different types of wood slabs were harvested in sustainable ways from the St. John’s Arboretum with the help of a full-time forest technician: Aspen, Maple, Sugar Maple and White Oak. Slabs were dried slowly in Joel’s pottery kiln at 100 degrees C. for a few days, and then hand-planed, sanded and finished with love by local woodworker Tom Kuhn.
And yes… that is actually real gold in the bottom right corner of the gorgeous red jar. That is the Cherrico Pottery jar Joel plans to display in Duluth. Hope to see you there!
September 24th, Joel’s artistic talent will be on full display when he participates (for the 7th time) in the Millstream Arts Festival, located in his home town, St. Joseph, Minnesota. This is where Joel lives, works and operates Cherrico Pottery. They even generously put his work on billboards around the city.
Joel is passionate about supporting the community of St. Joseph, and his unique partnership with the Local Blend is a perfect example of that support. If you’re not too busy, come see Joel create his famous Cosmic Mugs and learn more about his artwork by absorbing the energy of his specialty “Big Pots” in person.
“The most important thing is communicating with the user. It is only when the user feels the presence of the hand of the potter that communication truly exists.”
July 20th, 1969 was when humans first set foot on the Moon. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin (who owns a Cosmic Mug thanks to our friend Stacey at StarTalk) is 87 years young and he’s STILL active on Instagram, reminiscing about the experience:
Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield also let us send him a Cosmic Mug. In his book, “An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth” Hadfiled tells how his childhood dream was to walk on the moon. That goal wasn’t reached, but it put him on a path towards successfully becoming an astronaut and achieving his Guinness World Records title for ‘first music video filmed in space.’ Joel studied Hadfield’s work, sent him a Cosmic Mug and got an inspiring letter in return. He said:
“Why climb the highest mountain? … We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”
– John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
Entrepreneurship is one skill that has many of the same core values that propelled the United States to the moon. Entrepreneurs are required to spend years overcoming failures and striving towards success. You can learn how Joel launched and sustained his pottery business immediately after college graduation in this eight part authorship series for American Craft Council: