Composition Notebooks, Artist Advice and Drinking Vessel's Philanthropy | Sunday Reflection 6/9/19

Composition Notebooks, Artist Advice and Drinking Vessel's Philanthropy | Sunday Reflection 6/9/19

June 09, 2019

On Sundays I reflect.

I did not drink alcohol this week. I quit last March, almost fifteen months ago on the day after my 29th birthday. I've had about three drinks since then. I used to drink every day.

A Quick Look Behind the Torch

Usually I summarize my week here, and tell you what's coming up. Today will be a little different. I'm writing today's post for artists, as I get to work with many. I'll share some of my tips for success, along with some of the struggles that got me to where I am.

First of all, I am an artist. Most of my time is spent running Drinking Vessels; keeping the studio running, fulfilling orders, working with artists who make great drinkware and other administrative day to day tasks.  I consider this business to be an artistic expression, but ultimately, I do not have as much time for creating art. I'm bringing on help this summer, which will alleviate some of the responsibilities of running the business, allowing me to focus more on making art.

If you've ever sent a message to Drinking Vessels, I have probably responded to you within five minutes. It was not an employee or automated response. I read your message, processed it, and responded myself to make sure your questions were answered or that you got pictures of the unreleased cups you want to see. I've been glued to my phone and iPad for years, and it's driving me crazy. My plan is to ditch digital as soon as possible, without allowing my business to deteriorate. This will be the greatest challenge of my life. 

Some Artist Advice

Every day I talk to at least ten artists. Sometimes we chat about cups they're making for me, or how to make that happen. Sometimes they ask me for advice on how to make it as an artist, or for me to consult them on a project or idea. Sometimes they ask me how to sell their work. Today I'm going to share some of the little things that have kept me going.

Every day I have a list of goals (they refresh every morning):

  • Make one piece of art.
  • Sell one piece of art.
  • Give away one piece of art.
  • Trade one piece of art.
  • Meet five strangers.
  • Be a good person.

On most days, I accomplish a few. Rarely do I succeed at the entire list. My primary objective is to develop Drinking Vessels into a project that will completely support me, so that I do not have to rely on my art to support myself. If I could donate 100% of my portion of the cups I make to the causes I support, I would be succeeding.

If you are unfamiliar with the Drinking Vessels philanthropy project I suggest you read about it to learn more. Each color that I use supports a different cause. As we grow I'll be releasing a production line to support this endeavor, along with my fully worked line of solo and collaborative work.

A Personal Breakthrough; Composition Notebook Tech

This feels like a good opportunity for me to tell you about the cup featured in this post; My favorite creation that I've made. I've been blowing glass for nine years. For most of my career, I've made other artist's designs. I've never really had a design or product that was completely original with few exceptions. The composition notebook tech, or television static is the culmination of my experience depicted in a tangible object.

Drinking Vessels Composition Notebook Large Pint Glass

(a little backstory) I mentioned that I'm ditching digital, but I assume a lot of you don't understand what this means. Soon I will not use a cell phone, iPad, apps, devices, screens outside the office. I'll chat with artists over video chat when I'm at work to maintain communication and keep the project alive, but I won't be distracted by technology when I take time to create and make art.

So how can you reach me? I'll be communicating via pen and paper through snail mail via composition notebooks. Each person that I stay in touch with gets their own composition notebook; we send it back and forth, deliver personally or via courier. If you want to talk to me, either send a composition notebook or show up at the door of my studio.

Composition notebooks are  a big part of my life. So I had to recreate the pattern in glass. As I explored the pattern itself I started to see nothing but static, like an old television with bad reception. Looking for the patterns in static, it starts to make sense the longer I'm at it.

These sections are not technically advanced. I have not revolutionized the glass process in any way. The amount of heat required to make these sections is tremendous, as I melt and remelt the same section over and over again. It's exhausting, it's hot, and it's fun. The spinning frit in the tube is mesmerizing on my lathe, one of my favorite things to look at against my window overlooking the river and the mountain.

After countless heartbreaks in the morning when I would open the kiln to find the imperfections, I have thought about giving up on this project many times. A lot of people tell me to stop being so hard on myself. They'll never understand. These will be perfect soon, and I'll have more time to keep making them soon. The tech will serve as a canvas for me to share my truest self with you through the vessels. Everything has felt like static to me for a long time. I finally feel like I'm achieving clarity, even just the littlest bit one day at a time.

Handmade large pint glass at GoPro Games Vail Colorado


So this one is available and will be listed on the website after today's photo shoot. I think it's my proudest accomplishment with glass. This feels like a new beginning for me, to move forward with a project that I've poured myself entirely into. If you want to be in communication with me directly after June, I suggest you purchase a composition notebook, fill it out, and mail it to my PO box (PO Box 1341, Minturn, Colorado, 81645-141). Don't worry, Drinking Vessels will still be operating and your messages to DV will still be handled promptly. I'll also continue writing this Sunday Reflection week after week, to provide a little insight from behind the scenes.

Thank you all for tuning in on the journey.
Enjoy your Sunday!
Ben



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