Could a functional piece of pottery work better?

Could a functional piece of pottery work better?


This afternoon, in between firing the gas kiln, making Christmas cards and baking cookies (yes, I am doing too many things at once.)  I read a posting in Ceramics Art Daily by my friend, Robin Hopper.  I laughed when I read it, not because it was funny, but because of the timing.

Just last weekend, I was talking with a customer about mugs.  We were walking around the gallery picking up mugs and trying them out.  Robin’s voice was in my head as I talked with them.  I found myself teaching my clients about the importance of a well crafted ceramic piece.

This is an excerpt from his book, “Functional Pottery”,  which I own:

10 Questions to Ask When Designing Functional Pottery
1. Are the top rims and the edges of the handles sharp to the touch for either lips or fingers? Any parts of the pot that come into contact with parts of the body should be smooth.
2. Is the curvature at the top of a drinking vessel suitable for drinking from? Does it curve in or out, or is it straight up? For optimum function, there should be a slight curve outward so that liquid flows easily from the vessel into the mouth and does not dribble.
3. Is the shape of the object suitable to be held or drunk from?
4. Does the handle have sufficient room for fingers? Handles should have room for average-sized fingers (granted, hands come in all shapes and sizes, but the thickness of the thickest part of the average fore finger is about 1 inch). If handles are too big, it will likely feel awkward and look awkward.
5. Does the handle fit the hand, or do the fingers have to conform to the handle?
6. Is the width of the mouth of a drinking vessel too large or too small? For comfortable drinking, the width of the mouth of a drinking vessel should be no more than the distance from the lips to the bridge of the nose (see image above).
7. Does the shape of the pot need handles to fulfill its intended use?
8. Does the sound or texture of the surface aggravate the user?
9. Does the object as designed get too hot to hold? If your piece is designed for hot liquid, you might want to adjust the thickness of the walls, or attach a handle so that hands don’t get burnt.
10. Could it work better and be more comfortable to use than it is?
These are my favorite mugs out of my cupboard:
variety of mugs and a pitcher
mugs by hoyt barringer, fritz reindel, and cyndi casemier
Starting Left to Right:  Robin Hopper, Ara Cardew, Cyndi Casemier, Hoyt Barringer, Fritz Reindel,
and my “every morning coffee mug”.
I would love to know what your favorite mug is in your cupboard.  Send me a picture via Facebook or email.  Happy Holidays.  Stay warm with you favorite beverage in a handmade drinking vessel.