Friday, April 15, 2016


Sometimes you have to remind yourself that things can always be worse. 2016 has not been easy so far, it's been rather challenging, but it could be worse. Giant frogs looming behind your house. Pterodactyls swooping overhead. Sea monsters attacking. These are just a few of the images that grace the artwork from Don Moyer, a retired graphic designer who resides in Pittsburgh and enjoys self-initiated projects. He draws every day and and by using Kickstarter, a crowd-funding tool, he found support to turn his drawings into mugs, plates, puzzles, bandanas, which he sells through his site

I like frogs, so I love the giant frog. I also love the nod to Pittsburgh with the Pirate ship. SP likes the pterodactyl and the crazy robot.
They're whimsical and bring a smile to our faces. I also like the nostalgic feeling of the blue & white porcelain. My grandma's good china was blue and white. It wasn't the Willow Pattern (pagoda, bridge, willow tree), I remember windmills on the plates, but blue and white porcelain brings back many memories of holidays at grandma's and ever so carefully drying the blue & white porcelain and carrying it to the china cabinet.
How can you not laugh and enjoy a meal when you have an attacking sea monster on your plate?

Don's whimsical designs started taking shape several years ago when he inherited a traditional blue, willow pattern dinner plate. He had never really looked closely at the design and when he did, he was delighted with the rich details. He also felt an urge to redraw the plate in his sketchbook.  After finishing the sketch, he thought it needed a little more excitement, so he added a pterodactyl. Over the following weeks, he drew several more plates, each with a different calamity.

After posting his drawings to his Flickr site, he received several comments from people who enjoyed the drawings and wanted him to reproduce them on real porcelain dinner plates. Late in 2013, he launched a Kickstarter project for the Calamityware plate with flying monkeys. He got enough sponsors to start a small production run.

Since then he's done 15 successful Kickstarter projects for plates, mugs, bandanas, puzzles, and letterpress prints. The latest project is this:
Blue and white plates with an unwelcome black intruder(s). These are "Uninvited Guests!" and are delicately designed soup bowls and dessert plates featuring big fat flies and meandering ants!
It's OK since these ants & flies are not real but if any bug comes near my sweet treats, it meets an untimely & ugly demise.
Above is a photo of Don doing what he loves: drawing. The name Caalamityware comes from the notion that we all have bad days. You lose your keys. You lose your job. You lose your super powers. This mug helps you cope with hard times by reminding you that things could be much worse. You could also be plagued by giant robots, dinosaurs, or zombie poodles. Cheer up.

And that's why when I heard about Calamityware in late March, I decided I wanted to write a post. A Pittsburgh based artist crating whimsical plates in a nostalgic blue & white way - his drawings made us laugh and feel better at a time when things were no so laughable. Sometimes all you need to forget your troubles and feel better, even if only for the time it takes to brew and drink a cup of tea or have a treat, is some fun porcelain mugs and plates.

Don's designs can be found at

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