Replacing Plastic with Clay: Throwing Ceramic Water Cups for the Local Blend Coffee Shop

Back when I first made pottery for the Local Blend in 2010, I couldn’t make enough to replace their plastic water cups. I wasn’t worried, because I thought the majority of customers would use mugs and dinnerware. They serve food, soup, pastries and a huge variety of coffee drinks, so I wasn’t worried about a few plastic cups here and there. Boy was I wrong…

Plastic water cups made up almost half of the serving vessels used by customers.  The images below show how these cups were really an eyesore; they totally distracted from the pottery.


During the spring of 2011, I made a goal of getting all of the plastic vessels out of the Local Blend. The idea was tough because the restaurant broke too many water cups years ago when they used glass, so they switched to plastic. I had to come up with stable, durable forms.

I also had to fit at least 20 cups within a 14” x 14” space, which was no problem for the stackable plastic cups. I quickly decided my pottery simply wouldn’t stack well, so I designed a custom shelf to fit this space. The shelf was about 13” x 13” which allowed for 4 cups to fit in each row, as long as they were no wider than 3” at the rim or foot. With 3 tiers, it can easily hold 24 cups.


I used a Japanese “dragonfly” measuring tool to ensure that each cup was roughly the same size. This tool is crucial when making mugs for a restaurant, because each mug must shrink to the correct 12oz, 16oz, or 20oz. size. Otherwise that medium iced frappe latte mocha just won’t taste right.

Stop in the Local Blend sometime and you can eat and drink from my artwork! For more info check out the “Pottery at the Local Blend” section of my website.

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