Confession – I love 80s music –  and what potter couldn’t love Boy George’s anthem to tumbler?

I love making mugs (as I have stated many times).  But, sometimes I don’t get the handles on  before they dry and I am left with a tumbler.  Every time this happens, I promise to never let it happen again; but you know what they say about good intentions.  Some days life interferes and I just don’t make it back into the studio which is how mugs become tumblers.

I have several of these ‘not-quite-mugs’ in my home and I use them daily.  At first, they ended up in my cupboard because tumblers are very difficult to sell or give away.  But now, we prefer to use them instead of the glassware; consequently, they spend more time in the dishwasher than they do in the cabinet.  In fact, I am planning to replace our glasses with tumblers (eventually, you know…shoemaker’s kids and all that).

There seems to be a lot of confusion about ceramic tumblers.  People (Americans) don’t know what to do with a pottery tumbler.  Although ceramic tumblers (like Japanese tea bowls) are revered in other cultures, in the US, there is a discrimitory attitude toward them.  I am not sure why there is such a predjudice towards tumblers (aka ceramic handless mugs); but, apparently, there are rules for beverage consumption and ceramic tumblers are shunned.  For example:

  • Cold drinks are drunk from tumblers made of glass, plastic, or paper. (Why such random discrimination towards pottery?  Ceramic tumblers are perfect for keeping refreshing beverages colder longer.)
  •  Hot beverages are consumed from mugs with handles.  Exception #1:  Over-priced hot beverages can be drunk from paper tumblers with supplemental cardboard sleeves.  Exception #2:  Hot beverages prepared at home for consumption outside of the home may be drunk from plastic or stainless steel tumblers if they have a lid (If we can drink coffee out of disposable and lidded tumblers, why not from a ceramic tumbler?)
  • Wine must be sipped from glass-stemware.  Exception: Wine can be drunk from a tumbler if it is called a stemless wine glass (Really?! A glass tumbler should not be more permissible than a ceramic tumbler.)

I am attempting to help people overcome their pottery prejudices by forcibly serving our guests iced-tea in tumblers.  I want them to realize the benefits to drinking from a ceramic tumbler – pottery tumblers keep the beverage colder for longer time, handmade is more enjoyable, and pottery tumblers are more attractive than glasses from IKEA.  As a consequence of my crusade, a few guests have even become tumbler converts! 

Tumblers are more than un-evolved mugs and if we set aside these arbitray rules, we can enjoy handmade pottery in a broader context.


(I wanted to have the song playing as you opened the post; but I read somewhere that viewers immediately leave a site that has automatic music.  So for all you Culture Club fans or potters who want to celebrate the tumbler with this timeless song, click here and enjoy.)