In support of form and function

This story originally appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of Inspired Home magazine.

My husband and I have started a daily livestream on social media about his fall into alcoholism and our joyful journey back to sobriety. We record it in the mornings, so we always have big mugs of something hot to drink: coffee for him and milky black tea, often sent by my mother in law from England, for me.

I noticed after the first couple of episodes that we were using these generic, made in China mugs that have no special significance beyond being big—an absolute requirement for me in particular because I drink so much tea.

Many of you know that my day job is to represent the arts. We literally have turned the phrase #SupportLocalArt into our unofficial mission statement. And ceramic artists are a big part of our Partnership. I had some locally made mugs, but they weren’t the right size for what we needed. So I put out a call to the many local ceramic artists and started buying one from each of them.

Now when we get on, I can show off and introduce these artists and their usable art to our audience. It’s so much more fun to drink out of something that is not only one of a kind but that is made by someone I know. I can see their design minds at work in the shape of the handle. I can recognize their style in the design patterns. I happily think about each of them as I peruse my selection in the morning and pick out my cup for the day

We have plates, cups, pitchers, bowls and platters from a number of local artists, too. Some I bought, some were gifted to us and some I commissioned. My husband and I have made a commitment to purchasing ceramic art when we travel. It’s so fun to be able to talk about various pieces on the table, to remember the trip and the artists, if we were lucky enough to meet them in person. 

For anyone who wants to support local artists, this is an excellent way to do it because you need all those things anyway. You’re going to drink out of mugs and cups and eat off plates—why not have a great story to tell around them? Why not decorate your tables with an eclectic conversation-starting series of locally made pieces?

It’s true that they often cost more than a big box purchase, but there’s a human component to this purchase. There’s an artistry that can’t come from mass produced items. And there’s the wonderful knowledge that you are supporting a local, small business, too.

The one challenge is to not treat them as too precious. You have to use them and be prepared to break them, just like all your dishes. But then you get to go back and make another purchase. And the cycle and the story-collecting continues. 

A mug from Catie Miller.
A mug from Kelli Sinner from Dakota Fine Art.

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