What I Like About Handmade Cups

What I Like About Handmade Cups

January 21, 2020

Hello Drinking Vessels world. We may have met before, but maybe not. I'm Ben's little brother, Jon, and I've been working on the brand with him since it was an idea at Thanksgiving about five years ago. I haven't been working on it full-time like he has, but I've dedicated countless nights, weekends and "vacations" (because they often revolve around work) to building our studio, attending trade shows and handling all the little details that go into operating the business.

I've learned a tremendous amount about glass blowing, met truly inspirational artists and have seen the glass cup market evolve over the past few years. People always ask me: "Cups? Why Cups?" Here is 'Why Cups':

There are so many things to like about handmade cups: function, design, the story of an artist’s inspiration or the process to create it. In over five years I’ve seen thousands of handmade cups, collected over 30 into my personal collection and made quite a few as well. Each cup is unique it its style and its story, and that’s part of what I love about cups.

Each Cup has a Story

Not every cup is perfect, and that’s part of the beauty of using handmade goods. As much as I appreciate the final product, I enjoy seeing a cup work its way through the creative process as well; from an artist channeling inspiration into a unique design, and then crafting that into a functional piece of art. Every year at the Vail Cup Collector’s Club I get the opportunity to be surrounded by dozens of artists creating and collaborating on new work, and get to see this process in action.

Robert Mickelsen at Vail Cup Collector's Club 2019

Sometimes colors bubble a little, or dot work didn’t quite go as planned, and you can find these little blemishes on a final product. But sometimes, two artists who have never met happen to be in the same studio and start brewing up ideas together; like Glass by BoOTs! & Robert Mickelsen. There are some other artists I hope find these serendipitous moments sometime soon.

Beyond the story of a particular piece, is the story of the artist, how they began glassblowing and how their career has evolved over time. Take Mr Voorhees for example and how he draws inspiration from street art (similarly to many glass artists). I always enjoy learning about an artists background and how that plays into their creative process.

A Growing Cup Community

Whether it’s a morning smoothie, a coffee-break, or a glass of wine at night, whenever I’m drinking from a handmade cup, I feel a spark of creativity. When I look at a colorful design, or geometric shapes within a cup, it reminds me of the process of glassblowing and cup making — melting, twisting and shaping raw glass into a functional work of art.

Ryan Reich Rubix Cube MugWhile I’m at the Vail Cup Collector’s Club, I enjoy seeing everyone share their collections and chatting about which artists we hope to see collab in the coming year. It’s cool to see so many people coming together every year to make, talk about and find the newest handmade cups. There are a few other shows dedicated solely to cup makers popping up around the country as well, these are good signs that cup community is continuing to grow. It’s also a great way to spark interesting conversations with family, friends and coworkers and bring creative inspiration into a sometimes monotonous routine. My favorite pieces on my desk at work are my Ryan Reich rubix cube mug and KJH water bottle — they intersect nicely between aesthetically pleasing design and functionally sound mechanics — and make for nice conversation starters.

How Much Does it Cost to Start Collecting Cups?

One thing I’m growing excited about more recently is the accessibility for an art collector living on a budget, to bring handmade art into daily life. As more artists continue making cups, there are growing options to find handmade cups at accessible price points. I started building my collection with $50 & $100 cups, and have added pricier cups as my tastes evolve and I see trends emerging. For certain artists whose work usually exceeds my price range, cups are a great way to bring their work into my collection as well, given that cups are generally more affordable than some of their other work.

Beyond growing my personal collection, I’m excited to continue meeting artists who enjoy making cups and all the challenges that cup-making brings with it. I’m excited to see cup culture continue to grow and hope you’ll join us for Vail Cup Collector’s 2020 in February — See you there!

Hope you enjoyed my perspective -- I'll be sharing more content in the future. Let me know if you have questions about cups -- I'll see what I can come up with.

And if you're still reading...sweet! Here's a link for a free coaster with your next order or use promo code: STILLREADING

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