I recently found a quote from someone called de la Rochefoucauld that sums up a large part of the value that hand-made pieces have for me...
“happiness does not consist in things themselves but in the relish we have of them”
— de la Rochefoucauld
The truth of it for me is summed up by this tea bowl I had the privilege of using, and falling in love with, earlier in the year.
It is one of a group in the holiday cottage at Kigbeare that I stayed in while doing a course. I like a large amount of tea in the mornings and none of the mugs in the kitchen were the right size, but there was a row of Lisa Hammond's tea bowls on a shelf above the stairs.
As you can see, each one is different, in size, colour, and texture. The one in the top photo spoke to me and I used it (carefully!) whilst I was there. It was only through use that its specialness really became apparent. Touching each morning, cradling the warm tea and choosing which part to sip from I got to know this bowl intimately and to really relish using it. The tactile experience also influenced the visual as even now just looking at a picture of it makes me happy again.
When you compare it to even a nice mass-produced mug it's not hard to see why this is the case.
This mug has different prints on each side, so there is a little something to be gained from interacting with it, but beyond the two prints and the fineness and even-ness of industrially slip-cast porcelain there's not much else going on. There's just less character and less to relish. The difference reminds me of the contrast between a commercially produced pop song and a piece of music by an actual composer/musicians. One is made for money, the other is made the way it should be by an artist who cares deeply about such things.
Both of these vessels hold enough tea to get me going in the mornings. They both function and do the job. Only one of them does it in a way that I can really relish!
And it makes me happy in the process. The morning tea is a tiny moment of each busy day, but if a cup/mug/bowl can bring such joy in that moment then I think they are well worth making a place for.
If any of you have favourites that you relish I'd love to hear about them.