On Sundays I reflect.
I did not drink alcohol this week.
I struggled for years with alcoholism, and then a few years ago I decided I was done. I sometimes encounter people who are drunk and I am reminded of who I was. I see so many things I hated about myself in others through sober eyes, and I am reminded of how I do not want to be. In regards to self improvement; I have a long way to go. I am far from perfect. I was able to identify my drinking as a problem and removed it from my life a few years ago. Every day I make the effort to eliminate other bad habits in my life and become a better person.
In case you are wondering, this is not easy and challenges me daily. It is also completely worth it.
I have told friends and family that my studio is the most important project of my life. This is the space where I run Drinking Vessels. It is the only space in the world that is mine, where everything is the way I want it to be. It is the space where I can operate in my own world, and bring my ideas to life. It is a space where my imagination is my only limitation besides square footage and equipment. This is the space from which my composition notebook tech evolved. It is the space in which I have endured the challenges of the last three years, almost every day. Battle Mountain is a perfect namesake for my backyard, because it has been a battle since day one to bring my vision into reality.
I remember just over a year ago when JCOST moved to Vail to help me. My website had around forty sales. Those sales accounted for almost four years of my website being live, though of course I was making other sales outside of the website.
Today we have two hundred and sixty one sales on the website.
I used to reach out to friends, family, and supporters on an almost daily basis. If I didn’t make a few hundred dollars every day, I was losing money that I didn’t have. Sometimes I would feel so helpless that I would make posts on my personal Facebook asking everyone I knew to find anything they could spend to support my brand. I would offer things I personally made below value just to get any extra dollars generated to keep the business alive. Many people attached to my passion and made purchases I knew were just to help me keep going. I watched people’s dogs and drove them to the airport to make extra money to subsidize my business, and I sometimes still do.
One specific post I made on Facebook was on March 1st of this year. I was the closest I have ever been to giving up. From day one this business has required far beyond my own financial means. Sometimes that burden becomes so great, that it can paralyze a person and create severe anxiety. Owing people money is not a good feeling, and owing people money without any income is even worse. So I put it out in the universe, that I needed help. I wrote sincerely about how hard I am working and how passionate I am about what I am doing. I asked anyone that saw my message and find one thing to buy on my website. I believe in power in numbers. If everyone I personally know bought even just a shirt at $25 it would provide the resources this brand needs to continue operating for months and years to come.
So this distant cousin-by-marriage got the message and jumped on the site (probably for the first time in his life). A few minutes later I had an order for a flask and a few cups on the website, and I recognized his name on the order. That might have been one of the last times I cried. I remember texting my brother while sobbing. It is a very humbling experience to feel that kind of support. For this person to make a purchase of luxury items from me representing pipe art and culture said to me that this person believes in what I am doing in a very strong way. This person showed me that I could reach a wider audience. He sent me pictures of the cups when they arrived, and it became clear that in addition to wanting to support me as a motivation to purchase he also truly enjoyed what he had bought.
Initially this brand was a place where pipe collectors could obtain drinkware from their favorite pipe-makers, often matching their pipes.
Yesterday that same cousin made another purchase on my website as I was wrapping up at the studio to go eat. I was starving. I was so hungry that I couldn’t think. I had one meeting after the next (and two of them even happened simultaneously which is not uncommon for me). Things kept piling up back to back and all of a sudden I realized I hadn’t eaten in eight hours but had been working for around twelve hours. As I wrapped up with my client, he and his wife could tell that I just didn’t have the bandwidth to keep going. For the first time in a long time I put work aside for a few hours, went to dinner with a friend and then went straight home to my bed. I ignored messages and didn’t talk or think about work.
This morning I was able to thank my cousin, and follow up with other things I could not attend to last night. It is rare that I allow something to come my way without responding or addressing it immediately. This is how I make sure that I don’t forget things or let things slide through the cracks. Last night I hit that wall, and fortunately I was able to get a good night of sleep after a delicious dinner and a very long day.
Today, I would suggest that our audience goes far beyond the pipe scene. Some of my clients don’t even smoke weed at all. One of my personal goals is to showcase this pipe art for all audiences. I want to contribute towards raising the ceiling for pipe artists and the exposure of their work. Pipe Art used to be very exclusive as a direct correlation to the legal status of Marijuana. It was an underground movement for the heads in the know, and outsiders were strictly not welcome. As we move closer and closer to legalization, the stigma dissolves. At one point in time it was a very political and revolutionary act to push a bowl in glass for smoking marijuana. Through this illegal action, many pipe-makers have advocated for the legalization of the plant that so many of us appreciate for so many reasons.
It is important to remember that this act of defiance, making pipes, is what fueled this art. That being said, the art does not have to be limited in access to people who smoke marijuana. My platform serves as a bridge between Pipe Art and anyone who consumes any beverage whether they smoke weed or not. Some pipe makers only want to make pipes and smoking accessories. For some of them their art work is intertwined with the statement made by continuing to produce pipes. I can say from personal experience that the attachment that I have to my pipes is severe, as their purpose has been for my elevation through smoking weed. These are sacramental objects that people use daily and ceremonially. I understand what it means to be a part of that experience by creating pipes that are also art.
For those artists that are passionate about making drinkware, it can be more natural to translate their designs from pipes to cups. Some artists go through waves of making certain products. When they stumble on to cups, sometimes they make one batch and that’s it. Sometimes they make one cup and that’s it. Sometimes they decide they only want to make cups. The only certainty, is that nothing is a guarantee. As I have mentioned before, each of the objects featured here is handmade and one of a kind.
A client recently said to me that they recognize when they purchase a piece of art that they are buying the creators time. They did not say this in the context of an hourly rate, but rather the fact that they recognize that everything about that artists life culminated in the moment when the piece was created. At that time, the artist was fully immersed in the creation of the piece of art that the client then gets to own. Every artist has limited time and energy on this earth, and every piece they put out is part of a limited body of work even if it's hard to see that in our daily lives. Everything is in constant flux, and what was available yesterday might not be available tomorrow due to any combination of events.
Look around you as you read this. How many objects are handmade? Which ones are they? Do you know the person who made them? What was the impact of your things coming into existence? Have all of your things become mass produced for your convenience? Do you value handmade artisanal objects? Do you appreciate the people who make your things? Have you ever wondered who made your things? Were they all made by machines?
I believe in the power of numbers. If we continue to choose to support people instead of machines, we can change the status quo. Let’s prioritize people. Lets sacrifice convenience for ethical consumption. Lets act as if our individual choices matter and be a part of a sustainable society instead of one rooted in overconsumption.
If you read through my whole rant again this week and made it this far, you probably deserve a CUPDATE so here we go.
We’re down to one Jake C. @jake_c_glass solo pint and one shot glass along with his collaboration pint with Melitz @melitzartglass. Rumor has it Jake is working on another cup drop. I am trying to lock down a release date ASAP and hopefully plan some kind of live stream drop so that more people have a chance to get Jake’s work.
Also FYI, I just retired one of Freeek’s @freeekglass cups to my personal collection because it was my favorite from the batch and I told myself I would keep it if all the others from the batch sold. They all sold… The Jake C. solo remaining is definitely at risk for me to add to the personal collection as well, but for now it’s still available.
I found a batch of hollow handle mugs and some other goodies from Stephan Peirce @stephan_peirce the other day from around 2015. These have been on a shelf in a shop for five years, and I knew about them but just recently acquired most of them. The Stephan x JMASS @jmasswhat collaboration presold, but there are a few solos available and there might even be a Cooney collaboration available!
I got a big batch from EWGG @edwolfesgotglass and half of them sold the day they came in but the others are on the site. More colors coming soon!
I had a meeting at Everdream Studios and there is a lot of big stuff coming from those guys in the near future, but the most imminent is the N8 @nathan_miers drop he has been working on for me. It might all be presold, but feel free to reach out if you want to be added to the list. Eusheen @eusheen just had his show in Nashville, so hopefully he finds some time to make cups soon too!
As always thanks for tuning in! If you are wondering about my personal life I am in the least pain I can remember in my shoulder for months, I am working out regularly, I am eating healthier, I am blowing glass a little bit (which is better than not at all), and the team is shaping up at the studio. Overall things have never been better, and I am grateful for all of your support!
Enjoy your Sunday,
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