Everything about a Seattle artisan’s work has a hidden meaning.
Mandy Shoger’s company, Foxtail Pottery, takes its name from the Foxtail Pine. The hardy tree only grows a few inches per year above an elevation of 10,000 feet in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range above. The signature design she creates on hand-crafted pottery is the chrysanthemum. That flower is considered a symbol of life and rebirth.
“My art has meaning, but it is even more important to me to bring art into the functional moments of our day," said Shoger. "I enjoy making beautiful dinnerware that people will touch and use every day. Art doesn’t have to live in a gallery or on a display shelf.”
Shoger’s philosophy is echoed by the Starbucks design team who chose to feature her hand-crafted pottery with the merchandise curated for the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room.
Foxtail Pottery joins Seattle’s 5 Lines Pottery and Glassybaby as the first local artisans presenting merchandise commissioned by Starbucks for the new 15,000 square foot Roastery at 1124 Pike Street in Seattle.
The “artist series” will be a rotating collection of mugs, and small bowls, plates and glasses highlighting local designers and brands. The Roastery also offers a whimsical collection of linens, custom letterpress cards, and aprons and leather merchandise from Hardmill, a company founded by two brothers in Seattle.
“As we began planning for the space, we knew the merchandise needed to be unique and special, not unlike our Reserve coffees,” said Jennifer Quotson, vice president, Starbucks Global Brand Creative.
Starbucks designers created a colorful collection of a dozen mugs of different shapes, sizes and textures with the Starbucks Reserve logo – a star over a capital letter R. The Roastery also includes a selection of hard-to-find brewing equipment including: Chemex®, pour-over coffee makers, classic stovetop brewers and kettles, presses, espresso machines, scales and grinders.
In addition to creating a retail experience unlike anything customers have seen from Starbucks before, Quotson wanted to support artists in Seattle.
Shoger’s passion for art began when she was a child. One of her earliest memories is of cutting up colorful pieces of paper and reassembling the shapes to make interesting designs. She was an art major in college, specializing in oil painting. A few years ago she took a neighborhood pottery class and “fell in love.”
“It was like meditation for me,” she said. “Although it required a lot of focus and concentration, I like how calm and centered I felt while using a potter’s wheel.”
Making pottery is also a contrast to her primary job at a Seattle hospital where she’s a technologist in the Interventional Radiology department. Shoger assists doctors who are using technology to guide their tools as they place stents, angioplasties and similar procedures.
Ultimately, she would like to be a fulltime artist and is grateful to Starbucks for the additional exposure her pottery will receive through the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room. At the moment, Shoger is content with the connection she feels with the people who use her mugs and dinnerware.
“Coffee or tea time is such a comforting, nourishing ritual,” she said. “Having a mug made by hand can make that ritual even more special.”
Photos and video by Fran Ramos-Sabugo Rodriguez