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The Artist's Favorite Mug

(originaly posted in a newsletter Nov 2021, edited Jan 2022)

Every artist has a favorite mug.

Or several.

I, personally, tend to rotate my favorites. How might one choose a mug, exactly?

A mug, a seemingly random thing, is actually a very personal expression. We fill mugs with our favorite things like coffee, tea, ice cream, and even soup (I do, anyway). Those little convenient handles allow for transport without touching the hot or cold sides of the vessel.

The design on the outside expresses our mood, our sarcastic warning to others, our humor, and/or our contentment.

Have you every thought about that warm cup of hot chocolate as being held by the mug and hugged by your hands? There's a subtle energy exchange. We are comforted, nourished, soothed by whatever is in the mug and the vessel makes it happen.

An artist tends to look beyond the idea of just a simple mug. They might look at the colors, the design, the shape, the size, how it feels in their hands, the weight, the aesthetics of it all. An artist looks at multifunctional art (can it hold drinks and can it hold paint water in the studio?). But even more, they'll always take into consideration the story.

Who made it? What was the inspiration? Is it symbolic of something? Are we supporting another artist?

We humans have an emotional soft spot for the gentle connections that bring us together. Tender entwinements of an experience or a person can create a more meaningful cup of joe when we hold the mug that means something to us.

For myself, well, I am a sucker for small vessels. I love the feel of small mugs, small cups, small bowls. They nestle better in my hands. I love filling them twice - here's a secret, small cups and mugs that you fill twice mean you are always drinking something warm and it's not cold at the bottom! And, truth be told, I rarely use the handles of some of my favorite mugs. I tend to loop my fingers under the handle and hug the mug itself.

But as an artist, I must have variety, a playful array of mood-matching mugs to fit the day's creative endeavors. I pulled out mugs from my own Shop and clearly there's a bird theme at my house in the art department.

This is what I've observed at my house. My family tends to pick their mugs based on three things: size, design, and to whom person it's intended.

For instance, mug size matters to the kids when it comes to ice cream (bigger mug, more ice cream, obviously), the design matters when their take a moment to be aware of how they feel that day, and lastly, they always keep in mind if the mug is for Dad or Mom. (And for those lazy bones days, they pick the mug closest to their reaching hand).

What I've noticed for myself, all special moments are held in a stoneware Tazita, which means little cup in Spanish. I love the size, the design, the earthy, grounded colors, the way it fits in my hand. I tend to slow down, take my time a savor the moment with the small wonderful size that's somewhere between a tea cup and a small bowl. For water, I go with a clear glass or a fun design, like the Rainy Day Vintage Bird or Song Birds in Silhouette. For everything else, I pick based on how I feel in that moment.

Because of this, I've been aware that those who intend on creating this moment for themselves or for another as a gift, that they have access to the meaning, the symbolism, the bigger picture of what they are holding.

The Roadrunner is great example. It's such a simple design, but I pull this mug out when I need the focus and tenacity of a ground-dwelling cuckoo bird who is just crazy enough to not be afraid of snakes (read that as whatever fear that holds you back) and just savvy enough to pay attention to environment (read that as be focused, but not blinded). This Roadrunner is not your average everyday cartoon from your childhood. (Read more here).

So next time, you have a cup of your favorite beverage, take a quick moment to see what you chose and why. You might find you have a little artist motivation inside of you, too.

To see more about Cher the Fire's Hold & Fill Me Mugs, click here.

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