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From Pink Pussy Hat to All Hands On Deck

From Pink Pussy Hat to All Hands On Deck

How can art create the world in which we want to live? 

Watching the success of the pink Pussy Hat project as a way to unite protestors and to speak truth to power was amazing and beautiful to watch. The recipe was perfect- common craft skills, minimal requirements, functionality, and visual appeal. We wondered how we could take a page out of their book and apply it to The Democratic Cup. 

Ceramics, by nature, has a higher bar of entry than fibers. Access to a kiln, specifically, is the greatest challenge in creating a project that can move through creative and motivated groups of people. It hinges on people either having kilns or having access to ceramic artists with kilns. 

Over the last six months, we have learned a lot about accessibility and pots. $60 for a cup in the world of handmade ceramics is a middle of the road price, and yet to the wider public, it was too much when s/h was tacked on. This has limited how wide-reaching this project has been and raised the question of, "what is the deeper mission of TDC?". Is it about the object itself? Is it about the conversation? Is it about connection? Is about inclusivity? 

The answer is that all these matter and at the top of the list is conversation and connection. At the core of pottery is the notion of community and how a simple object can help facilitate a link between two people. Pottery is effective because is operates day in, day out. 

All Hands On Deck is our initiative that aims to get free decals into the hands of ceramic artists all across the country. We're focusing on local ceramic artists and local conversations to drive this effort of driving conversation from social media to person-to-person conversations. 

Both decals address civic literacy, which in the second phase of TDC, is a crucial element in how we want to approach conversation. Given the new policies of Trump's administration, we want to help educate an informed and motivated citizenry. The First Amendment decal, by David Gordon, is a straightforward list of all the rights that the first amendment covers. The Town Hall decal, by Klai Brown, acts as an interactive visual device that can used at town hall meetings with elected leaders. Besides the "agree" and "disagree" signs, we felt it was important to include "listening" as a way to open up a conversation with nuances.

We are excited about the page we have taken from the Pussy Hat project!  If you want to be part of All Hands On Deck, we ask that you have a conversation and post on social media about your conversation or interaction with the tag #thedemocraticcup and by linking to us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.  Send a SASE to The Bright Angle, 207 Coxe Ave, Studio 15, Asheville, NC 28801 or visit us in Portland, OR at NCECA where the Artstream Nomadic Gallery is hosting us in the Expo area. 

The Democratic Cup temporary tattoo

As an added NCECA treat, we'll have our Venn diagram Citizen Ceramics temporary tattoos available! Free! 

37 Steps to Make a Democratic Cup

37 Steps to Make a Democratic Cup

If you've ever wondered what it takes to make a cup from start to finish, we've outlined the steps in our slipcasting and decal process. 

Looking at the list, there are some steps that only need to be done once such as formulating the casting slip, but the majority of steps need full attention and might have sub-steps. We strive to create the most beautifully crafted object that we can based on skill and experience.

Special thanks to The Bright Angle design studio for all their hard work. 

Set Up and Mold Making

1) Designers make prototypes

2) Make first working mold

3) Make rubber master mold from first working mold

4) Make multiple working molds from master mold

5) Illustrators make multiple iterations of illustrations

6)  Translate illustrations to silver and cobalt decals

7)  Have decals screen printed

Making the Cups

8)    Formulate a porcelain recipe and glaze recipe that fit

9)    Mix powders into casting slip

10)    Adjust porcelain slip for proper casting thicknesses for each cup

11)    Fill working molds of both handles and cups

12)    Wait for proper thicknesses

13)    Pump porcelain back into tank

14)    Let cups and handles dry to soft leather hard in mold

15)    Pull cups and handles from mold

16)  Clean handle seams

17)  Attach handles

18)  Clean up seams

19)  Load and

20) Fire bisque kiln

21)  Unload kiln

22)  Sand and wash bisqueware

23) Mask off unglazed areas

24)  Glaze pots 

25)  Wipe glaze from bottoms and masked areas

26)  Load glaze kiln

27) Fire glaze kiln

28) Unload glaze kiln

29)  Cut decals from decal sheets

30)  Wipe cup surfaces with rubbing alcohol

31)  Apply decals and dry

32)  Load decal kiln

33) Fire decal kiln

34) Unload decal kiln

35)  Sand bottoms

36)  Pack

37) Label and Ship


Roberto Lugo on The Democratic Cup

Roberto Lugo on The Democratic Cup

It is said that the two things one doesn’t bring up at the dinner table is religion and politics. I believe this is a theory developed after many meals cut short by opposing parties arguing their points. Avoiding unpleasant discussions is just one way to enjoy a peaceful meal. I often consider how one could take the fear of having difficult interactions and confront it by considering ways to engage with others in a way that can be fruitful for everyone involved.

As a person of color working in clay I often find myself at a theoretical table, wanting to have difficult conversations, discussions that seem like important and obvious issues to tackle but to others it is not the first thing they want to discuss; concerns like the lack of racial diversity within the visual arts is not the first priority for my white friends. Not because they don’t care but because it is not their own personal experience. I do find that they are very supportive of my work, my message and of my progress. In my experience I have found that this support comes from their ability to find an experience they have had in order to try to understand where my questions come from.

I have found it difficult during our current election to praise a specific candidate because this endorsement also communicates that you support everything this candidate has done or what they stand for—I would argue that this is the equivalent of bringing up religion to the dinner table. I often think about whether we could focus the conversation on issues that we find important. To not only share our discontent but also what we are about; I decided to participate in The Democratic Cup.

This group of artist represents a diverse perspective on the many issues that we consider when electing a candidates. When someone purchases one of these cups they are decided that not only can we bring up politics at the dinner table but that we can engage with it in a way that allows us as users to ponder the works implications at a time of our day that we are likely to receive information.

As an artist of color I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in this community. One who values my contribution and who invites me to participate in discussions that are not my own personal experience. I chose to include to black female activist (bell hooks and Sojourner Truth) who embody characteristics that I aspire to personify: Fearlessness, and empathy. I ask for your support with this project as it is a great opportunity to welcome relevant material into your home but also it has a direct financial impact to the community that it represents.

Collaboration between Roberto Lugo and Kristen Kieffer.
bell hooks and Sojourner Truth cup

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