“Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so and hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.“
Robert Frost’s poem published in 1923, along with S.E. Hinton’s classic work, The Outsiders, serve as inspiration behind this custom piece of art. Julie, friend and blogger from the Redolent Mermaid, turned me on to Scumugs. Mel is the potter who creates defiant banner mugs and flowerpots with clever maxims, such as, Don’t Die and Thirsty. I’m an ardent fan of her provocative pieces.
The carved clay banner is the focal point, wrapping its sinuous form across the surface unfurling with rugged embellishment. The words I chose emblazoned in tall bold font, unmistakable and satisfying poetry to me.
By happenstance, I caught an Instagram story alerting followers of a limited custom opening for pots in early September. For $60, only $5 more than her banner mugs, I snapped one up lightning fast. I knew that if ever possible, I wanted this statement piece to be made. Special for many reasons and as my first commissioned piece of art, I could not love it more. When Mel shared a work in progress photo on her feed, my heart leapt and I beamed with pride to see my idea brought to life through her hands. Five glaze color choices were offered. I chose this striking combination of turquoise and black iron-speckled clay. The matte finish turquoise was unexpected, but it creates an eye-catching juxtaposition of textures. I enjoy the iridescent sheen formed where the bright blue meets the glossy black.
Its dimensions are about 3.5 in. height by 4 in. diameter. The turquoise drips and rolls over the rim, fading into a creamy speckled interior, hand-washing is recommended. Light weight sturdiness, two drainage holes and an attached water tray make it as functional as it is beautiful to behold.
The underside is pretty rad. It depicts Scumugs in a sharp typeface with a watchful eye logo. This piece is inscribed with Mass ’18, denoting the year and location of it’s creation. As a full-time traveling potter, Mel works in different studios across the country. According to her website, “she absorbs the culture and energy of each city she visits and transforms it into designs that adorn the surfaces of her pots.” This lifestyle pays off in fearless creativity and original work that I’m privileged to own.
My enthusiasm for the pot has yet to procure a proper plant to call it home. Local greenhouses are closed except for mums, and Lowes and Home Depot only carry cacti and succulents in my climate this time of year. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect little house plant, meanwhile I popped a 4 inch mum inside to show how it displays greenery and color.As art, the pot expresses symbolic meaning beyond its corporeal form. It’s a drop of sunlight, a handful of earth, the feel of an early June breeze, of a worn leather jacket, it’s toughness and idealism, childhood innocence and adult acceptance, the wistfulness of sunsets; it’s poetry, and it’s the coolest piece I own.
To stay gold is an emblem, an intention for myself and others. Just as Johnny implores Pony Boy to “Stay gold”, I wish for those I love to do so, too. To stay in that place, in tune with the feeling of wonder and faith in the world that lives in the souls of the young. I wish for that touch of gold to stay, and that includes my house plants.
What might your custom banner read?