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

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



American Craft Council, “A Potter’s Journey: Launching a Pottery Business Venture and Fighting to Keep it Alive”

This is the fifth post in a series entitled, “A Potter’s Journey” for American Craft Council’s website. This post tells the story of launching my pottery business venture immediately after college graduation, as well as the trials and tribulations that I overcame during the first 3 years of business:

“A Potter’s Journey: Launching a Pottery Business Venture and Fighting to Keep it Alive”

American Craft Council, Cherrico Pottery, A Potter's Journey, Handmade Ceramic Pottery, 2014

Check back for my newest pottery, available in my online store December 1st:

Image 5, Handmade Ceramic Pottery, mug, Cherrico Pottery, Online Christmas Sale, 2014

Image 7, Handmade Ceramic Pottery, mug, Cherrico Pottery, Online Christmas Sale, 2014

Image 2, Handmade Ceramic Pottery, mug, Cherrico Pottery, Online Christmas Sale, 2014

Local Blend, National Trend: Millstream Arts Festival 2014

Joel Cherrico Pottery St. Joseph Minnesota Millstream Arts Stoneware Pots Throwing
Enthralling the youth with pottery.

With the winter-threatening winds howling outside, can you believe this sunny photo was taken less than two weeks ago? On Sunday, September 29th, the weather was a summery 80 degrees for the Millstream Arts Festival. Sixty-four artists sweated it out on the streets of St. Joseph, bringing in sales not only for themselves, but also for local businesses.

Local Blend Joel Cherrico Pottery St Joseph Minnesota Stoneware Pots
Bold new signage at the Local Blend.

Joel’s unique symbiotic partnership with the Local Blend continues to cultivate this relationship between artist and business year-round. This was Joel’s fourth year participating in Millstream and his second year throwing pots in front of the Local Blend. This location and his kick-powered wheel have consistently shown to bring in more sales. If you weren’t looking closely as you strolled down Minnesota Street, you may have missed him because of the crowd that gathered to watch pots being made!

No pressure, Joel.

Many of you may have heard about (and maybe entered!) Joel’s recent Shark Tank Pottery Giveaway. We selected the winners the day after Millstream, and gave those who stopped by the booth one last reminder to enter.

Shark Tank Joel Cherrico Pottery St Joseph Minnesota Millstream Arts Blue Nuka Glaze Pots Cups
Thanks again to all who took the time to enter!

As fun as this contest was, as much as Joel wants to bring his wheel to national TV – the local community remains paramount to his business model and poignant to him as an artist. This is where his pottery began. The local community is where Joel earns his livelihood, giving him the stability to pursue his bigger dreams and schemes.

Joel Cherrico Pottery Farmers Market Karatsu Wheel Mugs Stoneware Pots
The finicky process and the final product.

Joel participates in 3 weekly farmers’ markets in Sartell, St. Cloud, and St. Joseph, Minnesota. These farmers’ markets, along with art festivals such as Millstream and Art in Bayfront Park in Duluth, Minnesota, cultivate the local emphasis essential to Joel’s artistic philosophy. Here, customers can handle the pottery, watch it being made, and get to know the artist.

Duluth Art in Bayfront Park, Handmade Pottery, 2014
Throwing pots in Duluth at Art in Bayfront Park.

Then, when someone takes home a mug, its mysteries become more accessible and appreciated. That spiral in the clay, those finger marks in the glaze, they now have memory and meaning in them.

Joel Cherrico Pottery Stoneware Nuka Glaze Pots St Joseph Minnesota Millstream Arts
Blue pots, blue skies.
Joel Cherrico Pottery Throwing Pots Local Blend St Joseph Minnesota Millstream Arts
Make pots while the sun shines!