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That ’70s Crockery

We’ve had a rash of broken coffee cups lately. Cone shaped mugs which tip over too easily. A pretty, but obviously clumsily hand-made cup which suddenly and without warning separated into three wedges in the dishpan. Slippery, soapy cups launching out of hands, into the sink, and shattering dramatically. Things were getting a bit ridiculous, so on Saturday, I set off for my favorite thrift shop to see about remedying this state of affairs.

I had criteria –

1. Broad-bottomed cups, please!

2. Sturdy and structurally sound: if it looks like it was made at a Community Education Pottery Weekend, no matter how pretty the glaze is, just say “no.”

3. Not “made in China,” for pref. Quality control on a lot of Chinese goods is still pretty shoddy; I don’t strictly trust that the handles will say on, or that the glaze is not chuck full of lead or other unwelcome elements.

4. No novelty handles. I hate weird, chunky, sculptural cup handles that are a bastard to clean and are the first thing to chip. No fire-plugs, no giraffe necks, no curvaceous pickles. All I want in a cup handle is a loop to stick two or three fingers through so I can carry it.

So, here’s what resulted – a surprisingly consistent aesthetic theme of earth-toned earthenware:

Sweet apples – I think this one might actually have semi-recently come from Target. I seem to recall they had a line of kind of “vintage-looking” kitchenware a few years ago.

Cheerful abstract floral design
Cheerful abstract floral pattern – has become my favorite for my morning coffee.

Otagiri Roadrunner mug
I have been unable to do justice to the Roadrunner mug, which I find incredibly cute. It has two roadrunners and four small barrel cactus arranged in a running scene around its outside. As it turns out, it’s from the Otagiri company of Japan and is semi-collectible. Similar cups are going on Etsy and Ebay or anywhere between $8 and $25. I got mine for fifty cents.

This is a better picture, swiped off an Etsy listing. The gal selling had two of these roadrunner mugs and was able to arrange them so that you could see the whole pattern. When Audrey and I were little kids, we had a chicken we’d named Roadrunner, as she had very similar coloration, and was one of those little crested bantams, so she also had the head-fluff. So I’ve long had kind of a soft spot for roadrunners.

Hippie Mondrian
This one strikes me as a kind of hippie take on Piet Mondrian’s geometric aesthetic. I like the cobalt blue and the dark brown together.

Abashed pheasants
This is the most ridiculous mug I bought…only because I convinced myself NOT to buy the one that looked like a goose was swallowing a blue ribbon and shitting it out the other end, continuously. That mug is so fascinatingly horrible that I may go back and get if it is still there in a week or two. But back to the mug at hand…this crackle-glazed monstrosity features two pheasants with delightfully shamefaced expressions. The male looks shocked in an “Oh, I say!” sort of fashion, while the female looks decidedly repentant. It’s a weird piece of crockery, but I decided that its stout construction and generous capacity made it an ideal tea mug, and the charm of the poorly executed birds has grown on me.

6 Responses to “That ’70s Crockery”

  1. Nimble says:

    I respect your mug requirements. You list “curvaceous pickle” as undesirable but the phrase is a good thing. I have finally realized that mugs are consumables. So I allow myself to buy 2 or 3 that I like at the thrift store. And quietly get rid of the ugly ones that we acquire randomly. Rather than having to suffer through their ugliness until they get broken. And yay roadrunners!

  2. Meetzorp says:

    Thank you! It is a rather satisfying phrase, isn’t it? I wish I could claimed to have planned it that way.

    But it is inspired by a real coffee mug that was in the mug cupboard at a previous job. Nobody would use it because the pickle-shaped handle was so fat you could realistically only get one finger through it…and I have really small hands. Guys were pretty much de-facto out of luck with that mug.

  3. Eric says:

    I’m drinking out of that roadrunner mug right… now!

  4. mj says:

    I would very much like to buy that mug with male and female pheasants on it. there
    was one just like in my house growing up lot of good memories with it but unfortunately it was lost.

  5. Meetzorp says:

    I’m awfully sorry, but one of my idiot cats knocked it into the sink and broke it a couple of years ago. Otherwise I’d have sent it to you happily.

  6. mj says:

    thank you.

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