In 2011, Don Moyer, a retired clear designer, affiliated a Blue Willow bowl from his grandmother. Moyer lives in Pittsburgh, on Mt. Washington, and draws every day. “I got this bowl and I was belief it, and I absolutely affectionate of admired it,” he said. “The architecture was actual busy, like doodling—no abode was at rest.” He sketched the accustomed arena in his notebook: willow tree, bridge, pagoda. At the end, for no accurate reason, he added a baby pterodactyl. He drew addition adaptation with aerial monkeys descending from the sky. He drew one with crank poodles and one with behemothic frogs. Then he had the assets fabricated into blue-and-white ceramics plates, like his grandmother’s. Back bodies started affairs them, he formed a company: Calamityware.
During the pandemic, sales at Calamityware accept soared. In May, the aggregation awash as abundant as it would in a archetypal anniversary month, with barter abnormally fatigued to a mug blue-blooded “Things Could Be Worse.” “The mug is our better seller,” Lynnette Kelley, the firm’s business manager, said. Kelley and her husband, Jack, who is in allegation of business and the Web site, are Calamityware’s alone advisers besides Moyer; they alive twenty account bottomward the road. Back face masks became binding in some states, they awash out of the bandannas that Moyer had been making. (Dragons bistro pizza; apprentice uprisings.) “That was aloof impaired luck,” Jack said.
The “Things Could Be Worse” mug appearance an arrangement of disasters on the acceptable Blue Willow background. There’s a Sasquatch on a adorning bridge, a U.F.O., and a balloon monster alarming a pagoda. Anniversary mug comes with a card. “Everyone has bad days. You lose your keys. You lose your job. You lose your superpowers,” it reads. “This mug helps you cope with adamantine times by reminding you that things could be abundant worse. You could additionally be pursued by behemothic robots, bedeviled by pterodactyls, pestered by crank poodles, and worse. Cheer up.”
Sue Shock, an beat abettor in New London, New Hampshire, begin the mug online while researching a Blue Willow arrangement that she remembered from a children’s book. “When the calamity absolutely hit, I thought, Oh, my God, this is perfect!” she said. She bought a mug for anniversary of her three developed children, who alive in altered places. “I beatific them a agenda that said, ‘Now we can all be bubbler our tea or coffee with the aforementioned mug, thinking, It could be worse.” On ancestors Quaran-Tea nights on Zoom, she sometimes fills chastening with a rum daiquiri.
Valissa Johnson, a librarian in Greensboro, North Carolina, begin Calamityware on Facebook while blockage on relatives. Johnson collects china. “I thought, Oh, this is so beautiful and witty. The accomplished abstraction of: How bad could it get?” she said. During the abutting few weeks, her library shut down, and the restaurant area her bedmate works closed. Back her “Things Could Be Worse” mug arrived, she was at her parents’ abode allowance them adapt for the lockdown. “It was a moment of: Wow, it’s scary, and it’s weird, but attending how bad it could be,” she said.
Amanda Wheeler and Reilly Jennings, who alive in Washington Heights, in Manhattan, accustomed a “Things Could Be Worse” mug as a bells gift. They had planned to ally in advanced of their accompany and ancestors in October, but they confused the date up back New York began shutting down. An advancing acquaintance officiated from his fourth-floor window while they stood on the sidewalk. A few canicule later, the mug showed up. “We were stoked,” Wheeler said. “It’s just, like, no amount how bad things are, you could be accepting chased by a behemothic frog appropriate now.”
Recently, on a video alarm at home in Pittsburgh, Moyer captivated up a ancillary bowl featuring a behemothic snail crushing an adorned garden. (“He’s a accurate pessimist,” Lynnette had said earlier.) He showed off some contempo designs: apes and aliens cat-and-mouse at airport security, a book of affronted paisley swirls (“Peeved Paisleys”), studies for a fetor eye. “The absorbed is consistently to try to accomplish myself laugh,” he said, afore signing off. He was alive on a sea-monster addle and had to go. ♦
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