I have a tiny collection of handleless cups, and today it grew by one tiny cup. I have developed an incredible fondness for Etsy. I suspect that part of my fondness grows from its being a virtual substitute for the walks I used to take through little galleries in Cambridge, and before that through my favorite artists' cooperative in Ithaca. Today, for the first time in awhile, I found myself wanting and needing to be away--just plain away. Looking back at last year, I see that it was on this exact Thursday that I let myself just disappear, skip out on what I was meant to be doing and take off for something without anyone else. It was also right about this time that I masterminded my trip to St. Ives. It may be time to mastermind something similar now, even if it's only something else virtual.
The handleless cup thing started with a person I think about a lot even though I barely remember him: a ceramics artist my parents knew when we first moved to Indiana. He lived in the next town down the highway, the county seat, in the kind of strange vaguely run-down nineteenth-century townhome that made up that town. I could probably still take you right to its door, or to where its door once was. As far as I can figure, that ceramics artist--whom I thought of as a potter--had taken up residence in that little town because it was a good stopping place while he got ready for what he was really going to do. And we were great beneficiaries--my parents, because they had someone to talk to, another craftsperson who was from somewhere else and probably wasn't going to fit in in that weird place; and I because, though I was often bored and restless when we paid visits, I've somehow ended up with many of the pieces my parents bought from him over the years: the big bowls, the strange teapot, and the organically lopsided green and white yunomi.
It was in St. Ives, prowling around the artists' studios and the galleries and shops, that I learned they're called yunomi. I'd always just thought of that mug as my handleless teacup, the one with the improbably narrow ring as its base, the one that requires artfulness and real care in drinking.