Holiday Chalices: Cups, Mugs, and Glasses

Drinkware is always an outstanding gift. Paired with a bag of imported coffee or a bottle of spirits, cups, mugs, and glasses are as much an invitation to share a drink as they are decorative pieces of sculptural artistry. Ranging in size, shape, weight, colour, and even texture, drinkware is well suited for anyone and everyone on your holiday list. We now share with you five incredible drinkware options that we personally would love to receive this year.



1. CRAFT ADVISORY

We felt it necessary to begin our drinkware list with glassblower Chris Taylor of Craft Advisory. Taylor offers us a stunning universe of twisted glass cups and tumblers, each boasting an idyllic balance between functionality and performance artistry. Taylor describes his work as follows,

Sculptures are transformed into functional objects that can be experienced physically in the everyday. These objects combine his interests in subversion, irony and humor with beauty, elegance, and a reverence for the tradition of glassmaking(1)


What makes the cups uniquely spectacular is the texture, resulting in a pretty epic physical experience when using them. Minuscule strands of glass are coiled into minimalist vessel forms, providing both a nuanced variation in colour and a rugged, but ornamentally uniform, ribbed surface. As a result of the masterful thinness of the glass, the coils capture light in the contours of their crevices and create beautifully dynamic shadows along the body of the cups. Beyond the ridges, the cups come in both straight-sided cylindrical and octagonal shapes. We love how the aesthetic linearity of the surface is enhanced and somewhat challenged by both the spherical and octagonal forms. We adore the wave-like movement of coils, the almost surreal weightlessness of the glass, and the sensation of the ridges against our lips and our hands. Available in an awe-inspiring array of colours, you will be certain to find the perfect glass for anyone on your list.


glass tumblers

 

2. ARTISAN & FOX


We are also smitten with the Herati Glasses sold by Artisan & Fox. The glasses are nothing short of mesmerizing. Handcrafted in Herat, Afghanistan, the glasses are each flawlessly unique while following a common form: a slightly bowed form riddled with irregular bubbles and delineated by a thin hemispherical seam. In contrast with Chris Taylors delicate pieces, the Herati Glasses are thick and weighty, offering a much more rustic experience. Despite their heft, the glasses reflect light effortlessly as the bubbles within the sheer glass, like fractures in thin ice, glow as they playfully bend the rays. Available in three equally glorious colours, sets of these glasses are capable of transforming any drink into an experiential treat.

Handcrafted from traditional techniques flowing back thousands of years, these glasses are handcrafted by artisans in the city of Herat, Afghanistan. Each glass is unique and slightly different(2)

And to make a purchase of these mugs even more magical, "in addition to a fair wage to your artisan, we provide an additional 20% of your proceeds to the non-profit Turquoise Mountain to help preserve cultural heritage in Afghanistan".


 

3. MUDLARK POTTERY


Veering away from glass, we turn now to ceramics. Laurie Goldman, a Cape Cod artist behind the brand Mudlark Pottery, shares a collection of cups and mugs that are whimsical and bewitchingly disturbing. We can't put into words how much we adore them.





The imagery on Goldman's pieces are produced through sgraffito, a method of ceramic decoration that involves carving through a top layer of clay, in doing so revealing a secondary color beneath, in order to create high-contrast designs. Sturdy and often organic shaped hand-thrown cups and mugs are adorned with bold illustrations inspired by New England life. Often featuring fluid geometric mermaids, marine wildlife, and boats, the drinkware of Mudlark Pottery is strikingly unique. Dolphins, whales, and seahorses, set within ribbons of undulating waves, offer playfulness and movement, even as they themselves sometimes appear to be abstracted waves.



What we find to be the most important elements of Goldman's work are the figures. Simplistic human forms take on a cubist quality when translated through sgraffito. While there is an endearing child-like tenderness to the characters there is also something about the representation of their features that gives them a haunting quality (one of our children affectionately refers to cups featuring these figures as "ghost baby cups"). We admit that we find these pieces to be so captivating we use them as sculpture around our homes rather than functional dining pieces, but we are extremely confident that they would make outstanding drinkware gifts for anyone who appreciates art.


 

4. STUDIO OYAMA

Masayoshi Oya, of Studio Oyama, also embraces the whimsy of design, although his approach differs from that of Goldman. Oya begins with delicate and structured minimalist thrown ceramic forms that he then embellishes with liberating glaze work. Watercolor-like stripes trace the sides of cups, birds-egg speckles adorn small teacups, and the occasional bold gesture of Pollock-esque splatters transform otherwise starkly white vessels that Oya refers to as 'a porcelain canvas'. There is a beautiful tension between the almost industrialized rigidity and perfectionism of the base forms and the freedom, expressionism, and artistry of the decoration.

With an aesthetic rooted in both Japanese and Swedish culture and design traditions, Masayoshi Oya pairs simple shapes with playful and graphic glazing (3)


 

5. GLEENA


Rounding out or drinkware list is Gleena by Cleveland, Ohio's Asya Palatova. Named for the Russian word for 'clay', Gleena is a ceramic manifestation of Palatova's aesthetic experience in Russia.

an assortment of decorated cups

Gleena’s organic shapes, soft sugary colors, and imagery are inspired by Asya’s childhood summers spent at grandma’s country house outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. Surrounded by carefully tended gardens and apple trees, the country house was a gathering place for family and friends. Influenced by her Russian upbringing and her background in graphic design, Asya merges classical and modern to develop objects with a purity of form that compel people to touch and use them (4)

a colorful collection of ceramic tableware

Her cups and mugs have delicately tapered sides and are dipped into coloured glazes, resulting in brief moments of splendid translucency at the rim and base of the mug, where the glaze fades into the untouched ceramic. While the colours are cheerfully bright, they are slightly subdued resulting in a wash of milky saturation rather than abrasive vibrancy (which is something we aim to avoid when it comes to morning cups of coffee).



On top of the colour, Palatova applies imagery of wildlife that looks as though it was pulled straight from the pages of illustrated nature specimen references. Foxes, hawks, and bees find themselves featured on mugs, as do exotic animals like elephants and giraffes as well as fantastical horned creatures like unicorns and narwals. With the serenity of the slightly irregular forms, doused in soft untainted colors, serving as the backdrop for a plethora of animals, the mugs from Gleena will surely appeal to any audience.