Cosmic Friday: Free Cosmic Mugs, Studio Shot and One Cool Quote

As a thanks for subscribing to my email list, I decided to send one Cosmic Mug to one random person each week- totally free. My goal is to give more people the experience of using this new, valuable type of artwork. This week’s winner has an email waiting in your inbox, ready to receive this free mug anywhere in the continental United States!

Cosmic Mug, Planetary Nebula, Filter

Sorry I can’t afford to ship free mugs worldwide yet. If you’re dying to get your hands on a Cosmic Mug, I have just a few jewels available in my online store here. Feel free to use this 20% off coupon code as a thanks for subscribing to my mailing list: COSMIC20

Otherwise, be sure to enter into the Triple Cosmic Mug Giveaway running through the end of August- definitely your best odds at winning a free mug!

By November, I’m planning to have a HUGE selection of Cosmic Mugs available at HUGE price discounts, ready in time for Christmas delivery.

Studio Shot

Each “Cosmic Friday” you will get a short email where I give away one free Cosmic Mug, show one cool process shot from my studio and share a quote that I found during my artistic research. Enjoy!

cosmic platter
The first “Cosmic Platter” – a huge wall piece with dark, starry night glazing…the first of many!

“In many ways, fame is the industrial disease of creativity. It’s a sludgy byproduct of making things…It’s my job as an artist to be understood, and I would rather fight for the audience to have a good experience.”

Mike Myers, qtd. in Marc Maron’s podcast.


Cosmic Mugs in Ceramics TECHNICAL Magazine

Special thanks to Ceramics TECHNICAL magazine for publishing an awesome pottery article written by author Marissa Deml! Marissa and I worked together last year and came up with the idea to create “Cosmic Mugs.” As a Marketing Intern, her final project was to write and submit an article to a professional publication. Thanks to her skills as an author, our work got published! You can read her four page article below, and also purchase a hard copy of Ceramics TECHNICAL here.

Uniting Potters and the Public through the Cosmos, Cherrico Pottery, Marissa Deml, Cosmic Mugs, Page 1

Uniting Potters and the Public through the Cosmos, Cherrico Pottery, Marissa Deml, Cosmic Mugs, Page 2

Uniting Potters and the Public through the Cosmos, Cherrico Pottery, Marissa Deml, Cosmic Mugs, Page 3Uniting Potters and the Public through the Cosmos, Cherrico Pottery, Marissa Deml, Cosmic Mugs, Page 4

Mountain Pots: Artistry’s Alliance with Nature

Copper Mountain, Jacques Peak, 2014 back cover

Last year for my mom’s birthday, I bought a Cherrico mug from the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph. She handled the mug, turning it to admire the unique aspects of the swirl and glaze. She turned the mug over to inspect the rough surface of the bottom and asked, “What’s with the dog?” I leaned over the table, first trying to see the dog that she was seeing, and then explained to her that the line drawing is Joel’s artist signature and is meant to represent a Rocky Mountain landscape.

Cherrico Image 16, Joel Cherrico Signature

Stoneware pots are seldom glazed over the bottom; the exposed clay is called the “foot” of the pot. The clay is vitrified, meaning it’s non-absorbent, so it does not need to be glossy.

The contrast between the raw clay and the smooth glaze makes the stoneware pots more interesting and dynamic than the clean perfection of mass produced, machine made ceramics. The rough texture of the foot indicates that the pot is handmade with clay and a pottery wheel, making each pot one-of-a-kind.


In A Potter’s Book, potter and author Bernard Leach explains how a customer familiar with pottery carefully turns the pot over to look at the foot, inspecting the clay and searching for the artist’s bona fides:

“There in the most naked but hidden part of the work he expects to come into closest touch with the character and perception of its maker.” – Bernard Leach. A Potter’s Book. Faber and Faber Ltd., 2011. Page 23.

Joel leaves his personal touch on each pot in many ways, but the unique mark of his artistry is most readily seen in the foot of the pot. At the base of his mugs and cups, you can see the fingerprints that were left when he dipped the pot into the glaze.


On the bottom of each pot is another set of fingerprints circling the signature. In fact, if you look very closely at this set of prints, you can make out the unique pattern of Joel’s fingerprints setting his identity as an artist apart from the rest. All of these marks created without any tools other than Joel’s hands communicate to the customer the quality of handmade pottery.

Pottery finger print, Cherrico Pottery foot bottom of mug, 2015


Finally, the artist signature itself which is accomplished using an iron oxide stain. The iron oxide is harvested in Spain and pulverized and sifted into a fine, red powder which Joel mixes with water to create a paint-like substance. He paints his signature during the glazing process just before the second firing.

Joel’s mountain range signature is reminiscent of Professor Sam Johnson’s, who mentored him during his time at Saint John’s University. Sam Johnson’s signature represents the flatlands of Morris, Minnesota. The similarity between the two signatures shows Joel’s artistic heritage.

You can find Sam Johnson’s work at

Sam Johnson signature
Finding inspiration from flatlands to mountain ranges

Just as Sam Johnson draws inspiration from the landscape surrounding him, Joel turns to the land to find both the material and inspiration for his art. Joel was raised in the Midwest, but his family made an annual tradition of visiting the Rocky Mountains. He still tries to find time every year to visit the amazing mountain landscape.

Joel’s most recent trip to Denver, Colorado

Standing before or atop a mountain influences Joel as a person and as an artist. The magnitude of the mountains represents his own entrepreneurial and artistic ambition.

In a podcast conversation with buddhists Vince and Emily Hom, celebrity Joe Rogan describes what it is like to stand before what he considers nature’s greatest works of art:

“There’s something about mountains that is so humbling…Your daily life and troubles are balance and perspective to the images that you’re seeing of the most spectacular versions of art that nature has created. That’s what the mountains are to me…Nature’s stunning works of art.” – Buddhist Geeks. Joe Rogan, Podcast 530, 2:14:05, conversation with buddhists Vince and Emily Hom.

In Joel’s most recent work, the earth is represented in more than just the natural materials and his signature. The mountains are etched into the body of the cups and he experimented with different glazes to capture the colors of the mountains themselves, the sky, and the tree line.

Mountain CupsPottery is an artwork inextricably linked to nature. The clay, the raw materials used to make glazes, and even the potter himself are made up of natural elements and all are required to produce pottery. But the artist can also draw inspiration from the way Nature produces her own works of art, which are often the most beautiful.

Cosmic Mugs: Pottery Inspired by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

After creating my newest body of artwork, “Cosmic Mugs” with glazes inspired by images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, I find myself asking, “Why?” Why try to show huge galaxies and nebulae on a small mug? I turned to mainstream science advocate Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson for guidance. During the Origins Project at Arizona State University, Dr. Tyson critiqued an iconic painting by Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night.

“I want and I need the artist to take me to new places, and the new place van Gogh took me is not the sky as it is, but the sky as he felt it. And the more of us that feel  the universe, the better off we will be in this world.”

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Photo by Andy DeLisle, Arizona State University
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, photo by Andy DeLisle, Arizona State University
Cherrico Pottery Cosmic Mug, Hubble Nebula, The Starry Night
Cosmic Pottery Mug, “Emmission Nebula” (detail) captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and “The Starry Night” (detail) by Vincent van Gogh

Unlike a painting or sculpture, pottery mugs are meant to be touched, picked up and brought to the mouth and nose. How many other types of artwork do you actually touch with such intimate parts of your body? I want my “Cosmic Mugs” to communicate beauty like a van Gogh painting, while deeply engaging multiple senses. Why does art that hangs on a wall deserve more value than art that holds coffee or tea? I make these “Cosmic Mugs” to challenge that notion by letting people experience fine art in daily life.

How many brush strokes are in a van Gogh painting? Thousands and thousands! How do my simple coffee mugs relate when they have only a few brush strokes?

image 07, Cropped Cosmic Mug Spiral Gradated Background

Complexity is revealed in the kiln firing. Raw earth metals like iron, copper and cobalt are mixed with water and brushed onto the pot. Massive energy is needed to fire each pot to 2400 degrees F, melting glaze chemicals together into a hard, glassy surface. I give up control, letting the kiln melt glazes into an abstract painting that I can never fully predict.

image 04, Cosmic Mug, Pottery In the Sun on the Deck, Cherrico Pottery

Will my glazes ever compare to the complexity of a Hubble image? This photo of the Andromeda galaxy has 1.5 billion pixels and you would need 600 HD TV screens to see the true photo!

Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda Galaxy

Looking closely at each pottery mug gives us a deeper understand of how Hubble images manifest as abstract glaze paintings. It shouldn’t look identical, but it should feel similar.

image 01, Cosmic Mug and Glaze Detail and the Star Cluster NGC 2074 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Cherrico Pottery,

image 03, Cosmic Mug and NGC 4038 and 4039, Antennae Galaxies, Cherrico Pottery,

Image 14, cosmic mugs in front of magellanic cloud and planetary nebula

Cosmic Mugs are…

  • Durable: Stoneware pottery is very hard and meant to last a lifetime.
  • Functional: 100% non-toxic and dishwasher safe.
  • Handcrafted: I make each pot from a lump of Stoneware clay on a pottery wheel.
  • Complex: Every mug is brushed with up to 5 different glaze colors.
  • Earthen: Raw iron, copper and cobalt are harvested from the earth & fired in a kiln to 2400 degrees F to seal colors with silica glaze for non-toxic, food-safe surfaces.
  • On of a Kind: Each firing results in glazes that I can never duplicate exactly.

Cosmic Mug with Whipped Cream Coffee Drink and Hands and Red Nails, Cherrico Pottery

We can look closely with detail shots, extreme zooms, and even a microscope to get a better understanding of the subtle textures that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Cosmic Pottery Mug, Stoneware Glaze Detail, Cherrico Pottery, 2015
Photo by Marissa Deml

Cherrico Pottery, Cosmic Mug, Cosmos, Microscope, Pottery, 2015

Cosmic Pottery, Detail, Microscope Glaze, Photo by Jon Cahil
Cosmic Mug detail under 20X magnification, Photo by Jon Cahill

Even simply enjoying a cup of coffee outdoors in bright sunlight can reveal new subtleties.

Cosmic Mug, Handmade Ceramic Pottery, Cherrico Pottery, 2015

Fan Photography, Noska (1)

Hubble images are free for anyone to use in the public domain, as long as proper credit is given. I sent a mug to the Space Telescope Science Institute as a thanks for freely providing such beautiful images, and hopefully to build bridges between art & science. Cosmic Mugs, Hubble Space Telescope Institute, Cherrico Pottery, 2015

Stay tuned for just a few new jewels popping up in my online store in the coming months!

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram to stay updated with my newest pottery:

Cherrico Pottery, Instagram, 2015