PORTLAND, Maine — Kristen Camp has been working with clay since college. She finds her peace behind her potters wheel; which led to her business, Campfire Pottery. There, she creates cups, candles, plant holders, and other things she sells in her shop in Portland.
We first met Camp in 2019, while she was showing us one of her more dramatic techniques; Raku, which is a process of firing clay in a kiln, then immediately dropping it into the snow, then a trashcan filled with sawdust. The results are breathtaking.
However, a lot has changed for Campfire Pottery in the last year. "We shut the shop down in March and it's been a really interesting ride of trying to adjust to selling everything online, and shipping, and with our employees, how do we make sure they are taken care of?" explains Camp.
She and her husband immediately switched gears, working from home and focusing their sales online, but she wanted to do more for those who couldn't work from home. "As a small business it was like, what do we have? What resources do we have to give back? And we decided we were going to do the "stay at home" project for those home quarantining," says Camp. The stay-at-home project is a mystery mug: you pick a color, Camp picks the design and mails it to you.
"I was watching everyone's stories on Instagram and I feel like people were trying to find little pieces of joy throughout their day, and because it was such a hard, uncertain time, I feel like we were trying to enjoy our morning routines a little differently," says Camp. "Because we all were staying home and coffee was just one of those things that gets you through quarantine."
For every five mugs sold Camp sends a free to-go mug to a healthcare worker; a small token of appreciation for the work they've been doing through the pandemic. How does she find a healthcare worker? Well, that's part of each sale. "On the website as you buy the mug and put it in your cart a little thing pops up asking you to nominate someone. You can put in their name and contact information in and so as we draw their name we announce it on our stories in our Instagram, and then we will reach out to them and get their address and ship it out to them," Camp explains.
While designing is her favorite part of the job, the reaction to these mugs has been a close second, with thank you notes and words of encouragement, "It's been really fun because I feel like I've gotten a lot of pictures through email of healthcare workers holding their mugs up, they're all decked out in their garb and they're like this is helping me get through work... One guy was saying he was holding out through these like months of long shifts and he was holding out to the end to open his package as something to look forward to, so I thought that was really special."
A simple mug, made on this potter's wheel, and meant to hold a cup of coffee has recipients holding on to a little bit more hope through their morning routine; even when life has been far from routine.
To learn more about the stay at home mugs, click here.
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