Sunday Reflections: Sabbatical Part III

Sunday Reflections: Sabbatical Part III

October 27, 2019

On Sundays I reflect.

I didn’t drink alcohol this week.

Home Stretch

I started the week by rolling out of Eugene and up to Portland where I spent a few nights with my friend Brian (Gasp) and his partner Megan. They graciously welcomed me into their home and I spent the entirety of two days running around seeing as many artists as I could. Ryan (Like Minded Glass) had me over where his girlfriend Jordan performed Thai massage on me. This was an incredible reset for my body after two full weeks on the road. I stopped by one of my oldest glass blowing buddy Aaron Vigil’s place and met his new son. He made me a few sections I’ll make into scalloped pints at home.

I saw my dude Don Chile Ortega aka Famous Todd the OG. This guy has been such an inspiration in my career and a pillar of support through some of my toughest times. I scooped some of his shot glasses which I consider some of the finest handmade shot glasses in the world. I got to pop over to Liberty Studios and chat with Anthony (Frit Glass) and Northern Waters Glass (Zach and Katie). Anthony has been crushing the beer cup market lately and hopefully we’ll have a release of some of his worked cups soon. Zach and Katie recently made their largest cup for a show at Legacy in Minnesota, and they told me they’ll be working on more soon for me to release. It was really nice to spend time with so many old friends in Portland despite the fact that I was rushing around but less than three days after I arrived, I was on to Washington.

Wednesday I drove up to Tacoma and checked out the Museum of Glass. They have a hot shop demonstration room which I popped my head in, along with a gallery of rotating work. I have wanted to see the museum for years, and this was my first chance. It’s part of a project to revitalize an area that had been abandoned and the architecture itself was astonishing, right on the water.

Tacoma Museum of GlassTacoma Museum of Glass

I caught lunch with my dude Pho who had special ordered a collaboration from J. Cost and I for his brother as a gift. He owns our first collaboration in his personal collection and we are beyond grateful for his support.

I stopped by Jolex spot for a quick sesh on my way over to Issiquah, where I stayed with my buddy Nate (Dizzy) and his partner Shawn in their beautiful home. Nate made a stew and we caught up after about three years since we last saw each other back in the 7 Point Studios days.

Dizzy's Play PenDizzy's Play Pen

Speaking of 7 Point, I got to hang with my student Keegan Lintz for a few hours and our mutual collector Bobby Hamilton came to the sesh. Keegan is working his ass off to refurbish lathe parts and soon will be offering lathe maintenance and services to our community. This is a huge space to fill with very few people and resources and I know Keegan will be able to bring a ton of knowledge and know how to lathe workers. He’s also got some new cup designs I’m hoping we get our hands on soon!

Lintz and ILintz and I

The Boro School and 7 Point Studios (both located in the same facility) were an integral part of my career. I met so many artists there when they took me in and gave me a studio to work on my project years ago. J. Cost, Dizzy, Dizzle, Lintz, Brie and Joe are some of those artists, and there are many more that I’m still friends with and representing on the site.


On Thursday I jetted up to Bellingham to meet Annie (Spiller Woods), Jake C and Jeff Melitz at the Observatory. Annie and I have been discussing collaborating for a while and now some plans are in place. While I hung out, Jake C whipped up a shot glass that will be available soon. I wrapped up the evening hanging out with Davin Titland at his personal studio where he works after his day job over at The Mothership. It was beyond awesome to meet a guy who I’ve been representing for the last few years and whose drinkware literally blows my mind. His decanters are outrageously cool, and the next concept he’s working on are going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen. I grabbed a pizza and rolled over to Bow where I stayed with my old friend Danielle Guthrie at her spot just a few hundred feet from the ocean. Danielle assisted me years ago with the Banjo series and the other drinkware made during my tenure in Seattle, and rumor has it she’s working on some wine stoppers to release before the holidays!

On Friday night I was invited to celebrate Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, with Joe Kelly and Brie Yost. They rotate hosting once a month with their friends, in a tradition that was a weekly observance in my household growing up. After all the running around it was a huge relief to just relax at their home and enjoy a chicken Joe roasted for us. After dinner I slept on the couch while they went out to a bar and I’m beyond grateful they opened their space to me to decompress.

Brie & JoeBrie & Joe

Yesterday I got to catch up with my old friend Dizzle (Swissperc) over brunch. I got to thank him again for taking me in when I had nowhere else to go years ago. He offered me studio access and the use of his lathe during a crucial time in my career that I consider to be integral to my getting to where I am now. I haven’t seen him in years, but it was such a privilege to spend the morning into early afternoon talking with him as we drove along the water on a sunny day in Seattle.

Dizzle and IDizzle and I

Sobriety and Drinkware Culture

My friend Joe asked me a good question I’ve pondered and not written about.

What is it like running a brand so embedded in drinking culture while abstaining from alcohol?

This is a dichotomy I face daily. For example, every day my social media feed is filled with advertisements for alcohol, I assume because of the algorithm relating to my brand. Cups can be used for any beverage, and I use handmade cups daily as a person who abstains from alcohol but there is also an obvious component that alcohol is playing a role in the brand’s marketing.

I was always intrigued when I met pipe makers who did not indulge in marijuana consumption. Some of my pipe making friends don’t smoke, and I’ve chatted with them about what it feels like to be in that position. The truth is that a real product endorsement requires a person to really use the product being sold. You can’t pretend you know about which pipe functions the best if you don’t use them yourself.

Before choosing to quit, I was an alcohol enthusiast. I especially enjoyed craft beer, and a friend turned me on to high end whiskey when I lived with him in New York. He used to offer me nightly tastings from his personal collection containing over 500 bottles of whiskey in a time period where I fully educated my palette.

It’s still weird for me to decline a beer when my glassblowing heroes offer as we get to know each other at their studios. I feel a sense of wonder when I tell them I don’t drink after introducing myself as “the cup guy.”

And on multiple occasions on this trip I’ve wished I could just have a beer with many of those old friends I’ve mentioned and new people I’ve met. It’s a social lubricant that makes it easier to interact in uncomfortable environments.

I’ve had to push myself beyond my comfort zone, not allowing myself the crutch I used to rely on. Admittedly my social life is not what it was, and I certainly experience social anxiety in my life. It’s forced me to look inward and analyze my interactions in a way I was not previously used to.

This trip has been exhausting but the connections are invaluable. I’m so grateful to have been able to spend quality time with artists and collectors who make up the Drinking Vessels community. I’m wrapping up the last few days on the road and yearning to be back in my studio after some quality time in my bed of course.

What's the Cupdate?

We have a photo shoot scheduled with Reda for the first week of November and I’ll be releasing all the new work from the trip as soon as photos are edited. In the meantime feel free to send us a message to see what’s available. I’m thrilled to be able to bring fresh work to the page with the help of the community of artists that I represent. I’m also grateful to everyone who’s made a purchase while I’ve been on the road and helped me to keep moving forward. It wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

I have a few more meetings before I leave, but I’ll be taking the last few days to wind down from the chaos. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit on the porch and watch the sunset over the water and forget about everything else.

Thanks for tuning in!
BB



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