Friday, April 22, 2011

Pots for Earth Day

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

I try to be as conscious about waste as I can be with my business, and take small but meaningful steps where I can. I ship all my items with used packing materials and boxes. I try to collect people's email addresses for my mailing list rather than snail mail addresses. I had been reusing shopping bags for my sales until this winter, but I made the decision to buy new bags to sell my items in. I went with brown paper bags, and I carved a recycle stamp to put on each one, trying to encourage what hands it fell into once it left mine that they should recycle or reuse it.

I like to think that my pottery itself has a hand in keeping plastic cups, plates, and bowls out of landfills. I have many of each in my home that are sturdy enough to toss into a bag and without worry, go camping, road tripping, or just an average day. Having a cup with you is super handy to avoid those unfriendly containers that come along with spontaneous beverages.

Handmade pottery is far more durable than the stuff you can pick up at any giant chain. I have dropped mugs on the ground at shows to show people how sturdy they are. Am I crazy? No, I just know how strong they are. When potters have a piece that didn't come out of the kiln right and isn't fixable, some of them smash it. I do this, and have to hit pots numerous times with a hammer to chip it. If they can hold up to this, they can certainly hold up to an afternoon in your purse or backpack.

Here's a cup I cart around with me. Some tips on what to look for when shopping for travel-friendly pots:

The straighter the sides the better. The curves will have more weak points in the curve. Straight or shallow curves are best. You don't want it to be heavy, but it should feel sturdy.

A thicker lip is a good thing for this. Generally a lip should taper a bit more to prevent dribbling. In this case, you want a nice thick rounded lip.

The foot of the pot should be flat on the bottom and rounded edges on the perimeter. If there is a trimmed foot it is a weak point and more prone to chipping while getting tossed around. A trimmed foot could still be okay if it still had the same idea as the lip, rounded and thick, sturdy. The foot shown has a flower pattern carved on it, but is shallow enough not to compromise the piece.

I hope these tips are helpful. Let me know if you decide to buy sturdy pots in an effort to avoid plastic and styrofoam!

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