Meaningful Cups - Chris Staley, Penn State Laureate 2012-13

Uploaded by ArtsandArch on 07.01.2013


Today I'd like to talk about meaningful cups.
Probably of all of the forms that a potter makes
cups are the ones I enjoy making the most
for many reasons. Probably cups are the
most intimate form a potter makes
because they touch peoples hands and also touch their lips
as they're using them. I want to make this cup
that I just recently made for the first time.
This is sort of exciting for me.
To do something that I hadn't done before and
I don't know what came over me at the time but I thought why not just cut it in half and put it back together.
I remember when I was in graduate school
being asked the question
where do you want your pots to end up?
Do you want them to end up in the kitchen, to be used every day?
Or do you want them to end up in the living room, to be looked at?
For a long time the cups I made
I intended them to be used but they would always end up
in people's living rooms.
And they were simply more to look at
than they were to use.
So I tried to change that with time.
Most potters that have been working a long time actually have this vision
of what a piece will look like when it's done.
And this
glaze is how
I envision this
So this piece will sort of look like
a block of ice or a piece of sky.
So all forms of art
deal with composition
and how parts fit together, both
in a harmonious way or in a juxtaposition or more of a
contrasting way.
Since the pot was squared off I want to square off the foot.
So I trim part of it
and then I actually
make the foot
And the bottom of cups have a history to them. And it's always compelling to turn them over and it's more revealing in terms of the story behind the pot
and how the pot is finished.
So I'd like to make a handle
for this particular cup.

It always looks much easier than it actually is
to get
just the right amount of pressure and taper.
to the handle
can be very challenging.
And then, later on
When this handle is hardened
I actually take
a wedge of clay and
wedge it right in the bottom of that handle
and then model it
to make it look like it's literally growing out
of the side of the pot.
Much the way your shoulder, your arm
is thickest here - you want it thickest where it's
attached quite often. Similar to when
a branch
is growing out of a trunk of a tree.
it's comforting in some way
to know that
those areas are perhaps
more secure and thicker.
When you use handmade cups it's sort of
you become familiar, there's a sort of haptic memory
that we have of all the cups in our house
in terms of how they feel, and
much the way you have a favorite pair of pants or a shirt
that just feels right
some cups just really feel right.
Neurologically, apparently, touch
is one of the slowest senses - it slows us down.
And I like that sense of
contemplation that can happen

When you're
drinking out of a cup
and it has a way of actually
slowing time down.

Is that all right, or...?
That's good.
OK, let me just...