I don’t consider myself a mug collector per se, but I love mugs. I consider the mugs I use as an extension of my personality. Some people broadcast their identity to the world through the music they listen to. I do the same though the cups I choose to use for my morning coffee. True to my own nature, most people never witness this means through which I broadcast my identity. At least I’m consistently introverted.
My cupboard of mugs reflects a fairly wide range of my personal traits. Some are sentimental favorites, such as the mugs my wife and I received as wedding presents. Others reflect my geeky nature, proudly bearing a Star Fleet emblem or some computer joke. Still more reflect my nerdy religious side and identify conferences which I’ve attended or are inscribed with Bible passages in Greek or Hebrew 1. In the morning I sometimes pick a mug based on my current mood.
This past vacation, however, I think I picked up my best mug yet at Old Sturbridge Village. I love history, and I’m fascinated by the crafts and trades people used to employ as they manufactured everyday items. One of the most fascinating of these trades is pottery. The process through which clay was extracted from the ground and formed into items for general use is amazing to contemplate, and the pottery shop at Old Sturbridge Village is a remarkable site to visit and see it in practice.
The day we spent at the village, the potter was making mugs on his wheel. On the lump of clay went, and in mere moments the shape of its bowl was formed. Then on went a handle before it was set aside to dry before firing. Visitors to the shop were surrounded by items which were in various states of drying, all awaiting their time in the kiln. When the gentleman pointed out Old Sturbridge Village sold many of the items he made in their gift shop, my wife and I agreed we’d purchase a set for the family.
One of these is now my mug. It’s not witty, nor does it boldly proclaim a classic space opera on its face. It’s not even perfectly smooth or straight. In fact, by modern standards it would probably be considered quite flawed. What it is, however, is unique. The style in the set is obviously similar, but the form of each is truly one of a kind. These mugs were hand made, so the way the clay was shaped as they were formed is distinct to each.
Even more than it’s unique nature, I appreciate knowing from whence this mug came from. I’ve visited the shop in which it was formed, and know the region from which the clay was drawn from the ground. Even though the mug is relatively new, it echoes with the history of an era long passed. And thus even this uniquely plain brown mug says something about my personality.
- Yes, I am a nerd. The cool thing about being a nerd is in 2015 the hipsters are trying to make it ironically cool. I never realized I was a prototype. ↩