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5 Potters Who Embody The Art of Business

“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.”

~ Warren MacKenzie, qtd. in The Studio Potter, 1990. Referenced in “A Potter’s Journey, Part Six: Growing A Profitable Pottery Business”

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.

Prairie Fire Pottery

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.

Wall platters and mugs inspired by the North Dakota Landscape made by Tama Smith, head potter at Prairie Fire Pottery

“Any potter can make cups and bowls. Your surfaces will set you apart.”

– Tama Smith, Prairie Fire Pottery

20+ years of potting full-time in the North Dakota Prairie draws people in to hear their story and buy pots, including me. Their business was so captivating that I even worked out there for a spell.

Learn more about Prairie Fire Pottery in this American Craft Council authorship, “A Potter’s Journey, Part Six: Growing A Profitable Pottery Business” or from blog posts I wrote during my two week stint working as a production potter in their studio:

Studio Guest and Production Thrower at Prairie Fire Pottery, Beach, ND

Looking Back on my Pottery Trip to Prairie Fire Pottery, Beach, ND

Shiho Kanzaki

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.

Shiho Kanzaki signing a book personalized to me, and then showing us his 50 year old bonsai at his studio in Shigaraki, Japan.

Dick Cooter Pottery

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:


Hamada Pottery

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.

This gigantic pot welcomes visitors to the train station in Mashiko, Japan. At Hamada Pottery, Tomoo generously gave us a trimming demo on his traditional Korean-style kick wheel.

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.
塩窯の窯焼きのクライマックス、塩投入です。
高温で塩が一気に気化して、柚子肌のガラス状に溶けて器に付着して釉薬になります。

塩釉焼成はドイツの手法で、濱田庄司が1950年代にヨーロッパ視察の際にこの技法を知り、日本で初めて益子の濱田窯で挑戦したことから始まります。

技法は参考にしつつも、ドイツの装飾的な塩釉作品とは違う日本ならではの釉薬と炎の作用する力強く味わい深い表現を庄司は行いました。

私の代になり、登り窯から単室のアーチ窯で焼くようにしました。アーチ窯の方が耐久性も高く、塩もコントロールしやすいですね。

窯出しが楽しみです。

Posted by 濱田友緒(tomoo hamada) on Monday, July 3, 2017


Ayumi Horie 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.

Ayumi also helped organize “Handmade For Japan” (handmadeforjapan.org) which used art to raise over $100,000 for post-disaster relief during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, giving the fund entirely to GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief fund.

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:

Ramen Making -part 1

Making ramen and making pots. The 1st of 5 clips from my new ramen video. Stay tuned for the next four! Edited at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, music by Lullatone. Online sale coming up Nov 1.

Posted by Ayumi Horie Pottery on Friday, September 22, 2017


Pottery and Book Giveaway ($509 value)

Thanks so much for reading this far. Please feel free to enter this giveaway, inspired by some of the most notable pottery of the Cherrico Pottery business: Cosmic Mugs and Guinness World Records pottery, as well as 3 copies of one of Joel Cherrico’s favorite business books: Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday


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!

11+ Cosmic Quotes: Why Are They Called “Cosmic Mugs” Anyways?

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:

#1: Author Ryan Holiday captures this quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson in his book “Ego Is The Enemy.”


#2: Bill Nye (The Science Guy) shares his favorite scientific fact on CBS “This Morning.”


#3: This quote from Carl Sagan comes from his famous and humbling video properly named “Pale Blue Dot.”


#4: Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space, had this to say about how art and science are related.


#5: One of the greatest minds in our history, Albert Einstein wrote this passage about his respect for the cosmos and the mystery it represents.


#6: Stephen Hawking, a leader in the scientific field of cosmology, ends a talk with this memorable quote.


#7: President John F Kennedy was committed to further space exploration, science and innovation. This quote is from his Inaugural Address.


 #8: Galileo Galilei, a pioneer in the field of astronomy, had this to say about mystery, science and art.


#9: Chris Hadfield directly wrote this quote to Joel about his Cosmic Mugs. Check out this Blog Post for more information about Hadfield.


#10: Charles Bolden was part of the crew that successfully deployed the Hubble Telescope. Hubble’s incredible pictures inspire Cosmic Mugs.


#11: The last quote is written by Joel himself in the magazine CeramicsTECHNICAL.

Art that lets you taste the Universe everyday

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.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei with a Cosmic Mug gifted from Joel. Vande Hei and Joel Cherrico are both alumni of College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. Astronaut Vande Hei is currently enjoying a tour on the International Space Station during the writing of this post. His “favorite office mug” stayed here on Earth.

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!

Image sources: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10

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. 

Cherrico Pottery BIG Pots at Midwest Art Festivals

Art in Bayfront Park

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!

Millstream Arts Festival

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 will be set up with 3-5 more of his best Big Pots right in front of the Local Blend coffee shop, where you can eat an entire meal from his artwork everyday. This interview with the American Craft Council tells how they developed an innovative business model. A few things have changed, but you can still buy pottery everyday and anyone can still go eat an entire meal from innovative pieces of Cherrico Pottery. Hope to see you at Millstream!

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.”

– Warren Mackenzie, 1999 Distinguished Artist Award” The McKnight Foundation

Momentous Pottery Giveaways Inspired by NASA

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:

Joel studies astronauts because it inspires him to filter ideas into is artwork, towards achieving greatness. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Col. Chris Hadfield both have Guinness World Records titles. Both directly inspired Joel to attempt and achieve the title for, ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual.’

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:

We also send free pots to other astronauts occasionally, like Lt. Col. Mark Vande Hei who graduated from Joel’s alma mater CSB/SJU. He is in line for a trip to the International Space Station.

Not the best photo, but hey…that’s a NASA Astronaut enjoying a Cosmic Mug!

“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:

A Potter’s Journey: The Beginning

🎉🌘🎁🌌☕🏔🎁🌒🎉

Momentous Pottery Giveaways

Houston, we have liftoff! Here’s what you need to know:

If they’re sold out or too expensive for you, don’t worry! Here is another awesome giveaway we just launched, totally free:

Free Giveaway: $680 in Free Cosmic Mugs

  • Cosmic Mug and Moon Mug Giveaway, totally free: $680 in free pottery.
  • Enter for free by simply entering your email.

Joel will also be releasing more pottery later this month: Cosmic Mugs, including $79 Random Cosmic Mugs and $49 Flawed Cosmic Mugs, before August. Stay tuned to the newsletter to get notified about availability first:

cherricopottery.com/newsletter

Asteroid Day: Meteorite Mug Auction and Donation + Asteroid Cup Giveaway

What is Asteroid Day?

We decided not to wish you a “Happy Asteroid Day!” because it’s not really a celebratory day. It’s an international day for the science community to educate and raise awareness on the seriousness of asteroid collisions with Earth. June 30th was chosen to be International Asteroid Day for a reason.

June 30, 1908:

Referred to as the “Tunguska Event,” an asteroid exploded over a Siberian forest causing mass devastation. It was a mystery to natives for decades on what caused this explosion, until scientists stepped in. It’s the largest impact event on Earth ever recorded during human history.  

“You kind of want to know how to move asteroids around – that’s a good thing to be able to do, because one day we’re going to find one with our name on it.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Our friends at StarTalk created a video with some of the best reasons for why it’s important to care about asteroid research. Dr. Tyson is an important science communicator, but he also has a soft spot for art (shown by The Starry Night painting reproduction hanging in his office or the Copper Red Mug that snuck into this interview):

Here at Cherrico Pottery, we donate regularly to The Planetary Society as members and periodically for additional research and understanding of asteroids. You can hear straight from them about the importance of asteroid defense in this video they launched today:

The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program…

We also donate to The B612 Foundation, which is an organization that helps protect Earth from asteroid impacts. We would prefer to not end up like earlier Earth inhabitants, especially since, “It is a statistical certainty that one day the Earth will get hit by a large asteroid.”

Joel Cherrico used inspiration from the cosmos to create amazingly unique Meteorite Mugs. Joel actually models all his Meteorite Mugs after the meteorite named The Willamette Meteorite, located in the American Museum of Natural History.

Here’s your chance to purchase a Meteorite Mug and donate to Asteroid Research and Defense.

  • This Meteorite Mug is being auctioned off on eBay with 50% of the profit being donated to The B612 Foundation in honor of Asteroid Day.

 Giveaways: 9 Free Pots, $290+ Value

 – “Asteroid Cup” $165+ value

–  Set of 4 “Cosmic Shot Cups” going out to 2 different winners:

($126 value: $48 retail + $15 packing and shipping each)

 

You can win this free Asteroid Cup and a set of these Cosmic Shot Cups in honor of Asteroid Day. Simply answer the question below in our comments to enter:

How has science impacted your life?

Leave a comment below before Friday 7/7 telling us how scientific classes, scientific discoveries, or science in general has impacted your life. We’ll pick the best 3 comments and give the winners this Asteroid Cup and 2 sets of shot cups, 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 Nancy, Valerie, and Lou. Thanks so much to everyone for participating!