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!
“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.
*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.
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.
When Joel broke the Guinness World Recordstitle 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 videoshows 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
What is one thing that you have learned from watching Joel throw pottery on his kick wheels in his YouTube or Facebookvideos? Share your newly acquired art knowledge in the comment section below.
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!
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).
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 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 #101totally 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.