Coronavirus Vase or the Covid-19 vase
Thank you for your interest in the Coronavirus vase, see story below. The cost of each vase is £80 (plus £10 careful postage and packing – UK only due to fragile nature), so £90 in total unless you can collect locally. I will be donating £10 of the £80 to a coronavirus related charity. If you would like to place an order, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Each vase will be stamped with its unique number. This limited edition of 200 vases is currently up to number 182 (27/05/2021).
The story of my Covid-19 vase
I came up with the idea of the Coronavirus vase or Covid-19 vase in February 2020 before the country realised the full implications of how it was going to have such a huge impact on our lives. (Had I realised the changes our lives were about to undergo I almost certainly would have never made any.) I’d been watching the 10 o’clock News and was fascinated by the graphic images they were showing of the virus and I had a strong desire to put hand to mud and interpret them in clay in some way. Initially I was going to make a Corona mug, but quickly realised that the enclosed shape was better suited to a vase . I put a photo of a prototype on Facebook and, to my surprise, immediately had enquiries from people wanting to purchase one. I wasn’t planning on making them commercially, but due to the interest shown I decided to make a limited run of them. I put up a Coronavirus vase page on my website. I decided to charge £80 for the vase with £10 of every vase going to a Covid-19 related charity.
Surprisingly the vase picked up a lot of interest on social media as well as local radio stations and newspapers. Prior to the lockdown, both Radio Cumbria and Radio Lancashire came to the pottery and interviewed me about the Coronavirus vase. Radio Cumbria filmed a BBC short of me talking about the vase. The Lancaster Guardian did a feature on the Coronavirus vase. The Yorkshire Post ran an article on Bentham Pottery, including photos of the Covid-19 vase and the Observer Newspaper featured an article on art inspired by Covid in which I was interviewed and photos of the vases were included.
As the country ground to a halt with the lockdown, all my usual orders literally fell off the end of a large cliff. A lot of the orders I make are mugs and trophies for running races & events and various pots for craft/gift shops. All the running races and events were cancelled and the craft shops were all closed so orders were either withdrawn or never actually happened. An order of 750 owl money boxes for a race around Leeds were ordered and then cancelled within the space of a week, which was a huge blow to us. All my pottery courses had to be cancelled (which has been, and still is, a nightmare for my wife Jenny, who does my admin and had to unpick all the carefully arranged courses that had been booked and organise refunds). Additionally, the major craft fair we attend, Penrith PotFest, has been postponed till October. By mid March, the only orders I had were for Coronavirus vases.
My mother, Kathy, who normally works in the pottery with me went into isolation, due to being over 70 and thus in the vulnerable category. This basically meant she was banned from the pottery, and I was working in solitude. Making the Coronavirus vases was definitely surreal, bordering on irresponsible. It did feel slightly weird to be making scale models of the virus that could potentially kill us or our loved ones in the relative safety of a pottery, while the NHS were hugely overworked with scarce resources putting their lives at risk battling the virus.
The only really hard bit of making the vases was throwing and turning the enclosed shape. Sticking on the 48 antennas was easy, but very time consuming and boring. The Coronavirus vase certainly made the Brexit mug seem easy.
One of the unique features of the Covid-19 vases is they have a tendency to “Velcro” to each other if close together (their antennas hook into one another) . I have lost a few due to this, particularly when packing kilns and unloading kilns. Thankfully this won’t be a problem though, as most people have ordered just the one.
The Coronavirus vase definitely received mixed responses from people. One of my mates with a gallows sense of humour suggested I sell them with lids on to crematoriums. Somebody else came up with the catch phrase “I’ll love to put an Iris in a virus!“. Some people took offence to them and suggested I was cashing in on people’s deaths. However some people did respond favourably and some even ordered them. I sold a significant proportion of them to doctors, nurses and medical research scientists ironically the very people who were battling with the virus in real-life.
To date I have made 182 Coronavirus vases, each one is individually numbered on its base. So far, this has raised a total of £1500 for Covid-19 related charities. I have donated £200 to Refuge, a charity for victims of domestic abuse, incidents of which have been in the increase during lock down. I have also donated £150 to both Lancaster and Airedale Hospitals, both of which are local to Bentham. I have donated£250 to Mind, the mental health charity, and £250 to Make a Wish United Kingdom, for children with critical illnesses. I have donated £250 to RICE (The Research Institute for the Care of Older People) and £250 to the British Red Cross.
At the moment I can take orders for a few more, but the edition will be very limited.
The Covid-19 vase was featured in the following articles;