Those luscious lips

Hey all!

I’ve been making mugs to start my push toward the sales in June. I need plenty more mugs than I have on hand, they always seem to sell fairly well, but I also love making them. Truly! I put as much attention to detail in a mug as I do for any other pot. About a year or so ago I discovered a new way of doing my handles that has sparked a renewed interest, and then last week I decided, “What the hell!”, I would play around with the rims on a series of shapes I was set to make that day. And wouldn’t you know it, the new twist became another spark that makes me happy to step in the studio every day!

But the genesis was probably two years ago when a customer at one of my sales looked at some thick rimmed mugs and proclaimed “Those rims are far too wide and would be impossible to use without dribbling on yourself!” I was shocked and offended. But then I looked at who was speaking, and I saw the pinched lips, the perpetual frown of disapproval, the clenched jaw of someone who doesn’t know very well how to find the pleasure of things, the closed mind of a person who thinks they know it all already, and the stingy purse strings of a person who thinks only of themselves. This was someone who typified the ‘ungenerous’ in every aspect of their being (as far as I could see). No wonder they could not understand the mugs I was offering. No wonder they doubted that their own thinned and bloodless lips would fit the luscious curves of the lips I was presenting. No wonder they assumed that if it didn’t work for them it couldn’t possibly work for anyone else.

So I’m back to playing around with the idea that the lips of mugs can be something distinctive, something present in their own right rather than simply the termination of the top of the pot. Here is what I have been working on. Hope you enjoy:

DSCN4654DSCN4655 DSCN4657 DSCN4659

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Clay, Creativity, Imagination, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Those luscious lips

  1. Dianne says:

    What wonderfully luscious lips!
    Plump, generous and cushioning.
    Something to rest one’s bottom lip on comfortably.

  2. Susan Whelan says:

    I’m a bit offended by the ungenerous thin lipped comment. One of the cruelest parts of aging is losing your luscious lips. Recently I inherited several past leatherhard tumblers. I used them for tests and a few turned out interesting enough to earn a spot in the cupboard. I was so disappointed to find the thickness of the rim not compatible to my generous soul’s thin lips.

    • Dear Susan,

      My sincere apologies for appearing to impugn the thin side of the spectrum of lip lusciousness. My intention was to point out the thinness of that person’s soul, and that her lips were so pinched from having to accommodate the ungenerous state of her own soul. When she made that comment she was talking to her teenage daughter, and she wasn’t making a point about her own compatibility as much as she was attempting to make some universal objective claim.

      Yes, there is a difference between people, and not every person will have the physical lip structure to fit all possible shapes. A potter has to acknowledge that everybody’s lips are different, which is why I make mugs that are all over the reasonable continuum of shapes.

      This is exactly the opposite of what that woman was suggesting. In her unforgiving small mind one size fit all, and large lips were simply wrong. Again, not simply wrong for her, but wrong for her daughter, wrong for you, wrong for me, wrong for people in China, wrong for people in Brazil, wrong for tiny infants, wrong for tall basketball players, wrong for any variation of human being that you could come up with. I would not have been so struck if she had merely been making a comment about her own self, but she obviously pretended to speak for her daughter and for all humanity. And for all pottery. That just didn’t make sense to me.

      Not every pot is meant for every person, but is that a reason we should stop exploring the variety of possible shapes? If a pot fit just one set of hands or lips in this wide universe, no one else could use it comfortably, would that be a reason not to make it? I might even like to think that a purpose so specific was even more reason to try something. Art that serves the middle road or the lowest common denominator rarely fails to leave us uninspired. We should celebrate difference rather than ignore it or white wash it.

      So I will be sad and disappointed that my new mugs may not fit your lips, but never fear! I have some others that you can test and just maybe you will find that special one that is meant just for you 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and for making me engage this issue on a deeper level!

      All the best!


      • Susan Whelan says:

        Oh Carter!
        I must have been having a bad, overly sensitive night. Everybody at NCECA can do that to me!

        This time around I read more carefully and looked more carefully at your luscious lipped mugs. They are rather thin lipped at the pouring edge and have that lovely spot to tuck any size lip into. When our paths cross I’d love to test sip from them. I’m sure I’ll find a perfect fit to my usually smiling, thinner than they use to be lips!

        I enjoy your musings always! If you’re ever near Kingston, NY stop by Bailey’s. I’m there Tuesday through Thursday.

        Best to you,

        • Awww…. No worries! 🙂 I completely understand where you were coming from, and blame myself for not having been more clear about what my target was. I think it is important to stick up for the values and special circumstances we bring to the Universe, and I was grateful to you for pointing out the very real conundrum of lips that are “thinner than they used to be”. We need ALL perspectives to get even a glimmer of the complexity in our audience. So thank you for speaking up! I’m sure I wasn’t as fully aware of the change that my own lips will undoubtedly soon be experiencing. I may not have been guilty of imagining that my own model represents the rest of the world, but its true that I didn’t fully appreciate the world beyond my own skin. And I owe you for pointing something important out to me. Thanks!

          If ever I am in Kingston NY I will come see you!

          Thanks for the kind words and for the courage to speak your mind. Sometimes it gets lonely bouncing these ideas around in my own echo chamber…. I’m glad you are out there 🙂

          All the best!


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