Cosmic Mug Giveaway, Laughing Squid Feature, and Mainstream Art Ambitions

Artists all over the world struggle to find ways to avoid attaching the word “starving” to their job title. For ceramic artists, this often means going to graduate school, becoming a professor, and building networks in academia. Recent industry polls (from the NCECA blog) show how 50% of ceramic artists are academics. Non-academics support their art by selling their wares, working part-time, and pairing with community art centers or galleries. These are all great options.

But are there ways to support art making that we haven’t yet discovered?

Our plan is to utilize the internet to face the “starving artist” fear by forging new paths that would not have been possible until recently. By trying to explore every possible connection through the internet, and then focusing on the few that succeed, we discover new ways to get pottery into people’s hands.

In case you haven’t seen the Facebook posts, Joel is giving away one Cosmic Mug each month to help spark interest in his new work. You’re reading this, which means you’re probably on the mailing list and automatically entered in the monthly random Cosmic Mug giveaway! If you’re the lucky winner, you’ll receive an e-mail asking for your address so we can ship you a free Cosmic Mug at absolutely no cost to you. And the first winner is…drumroll, please…

Subscriber #255: r******** YAHOOOO! CONGRATS! Thanks to everyone else who signed up! Keep your hopes up for your chance to win the next monthly Cosmic Mug giveaway, posted at the end of May.
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Social media sites and blogs let us creatively market pottery at extremely low costs. More popular blogs expose Cosmic Mugs to people who might never have seen them otherwise, like the Laughing Squid feature that got 1,000+ social media interactions.

Laughing Squid, Cherrico Pottery, Facebook, Cosmic Mugs

We think it would be awesome to get Cosmic Mugs featured by mainstream media, where millions of people would see what beautiful handmade ceramics look like. Talk show hosts and their guests so often drink from boring, mass-produced coffee mugs. Wouldn’t a Cosmic Mug look cooler?

From left to right: Bill Nye (THE SCIENCE GUY), Boring Mug, and Chuck Nice

The internet allows us to build a network among celebrities. A few months ago, we started communicating through Facebook to people at StarTalk Radio. Their host, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, has six Cosmic Mugs in his office right now! The radio show has since evolved into a TV show, airing every Monday on National Geographic Channel.

StarTalk collage
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson airs on Mondays at 11/10C on National Geographic Channel

#1 New York Times Best-selling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss podcasts through the Tim Ferriss Podcast, and he also launched a killer, new TV show this week: The Tim Ferriss Experiment. Oh yeah, Tim also owns a Cosmic Mug!

Tim Ferriss, the Tim Ferriss Experiment, Copyright 2015

This week I am writing a letter to Bill Nye the Science Guy and sending it along with a Cosmic Mug and an issue of American Craft to the Planetary Society in California. We joined the Planetary Society, and we hope they will like the way Cosmic Mugs bring distant wonders into our hands, allowing people to experience the feeling of space.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with becoming a teacher or professor to support yourself as an artist – many of Joel’s greatest inspirations are teachers (shout out to Ben Carter – innovative educator and podcaster who you pottery people will love.) But we’re devoted to exploring new ways to find success in the ceramics field by teaching indirectly. Connections that started online have already brought Joel’s pottery into the hands of over half a dozen celebrities and astronauts: Neil deGrasse TysonTim Ferriss, Bryan CallenJoe Rogan, Brendan SchaubBuzz Aldrin, & Mike Massimino. Monday a Cosmic Mug not only goes in the mail to Bill Nye, but also to Matt Mullenweg. He created WordPress, which not only runs my website, but 23% of the entire internet!

Our global vision is to reach a tipping point that causes pottery to enter the mainstream eye. Stayed tuned…

American Craft Council, “A Potter’s Journey: Writing a Business Plan”

This is the fourth post in Joel’s series entitled “A Potter’s Journey” for American Craft Council’s website. Joel enjoys this opportunity to write for American Craft Council about his unique journey as a potter and an entrepreneur. In this post, learn how a business plan assignment for a management class became a reality. Grab a cup of coffee (out of some pottery of course) and enjoy!

“A Potter’s Journey: Writing a Business Plan”

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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.