Many students are unaware of the lives of the teachers that roam the halls alongside them. As one of the creators of an artistic practice called Better Lovers, Mr. Jacob Raeder has a business and artistic life that he does not often share with his students.
“I have been working with Layla Marcelle for about six years,” Mr. Raeder said. “There are two sides to this company. One is the business side, where we make functional ceramics to fund the other side, which is focused on other stuff like cinematography and other such mediums.”
Better Lovers produces functional ceramics. “Designed ceramics,” on the other hand, are intended to be mass-produced and sold. While Mr. Raeder sells his work, it is all handmade.
“We have siloed parts of our practice into two categories that help each other,” Mr. Raeder observed, “One part of our practice helps to fund the other side of our practice.”
Better Lovers specializes in creating pieces with crawl glaze. Crawl glaze has a bumpy texture that is not conventional in mass-produced ceramics.
“We generally think of glaze on ceramics as not having texture,” Mr. Raeder said. “I became interested in crawl [glaze] because I wanted to make ceramics that were not only visually interesting but also interesting to the touch. That knobbly, rough texture was just as appealing as the way it looked.”
One of the ideas he considered was how a visually impaired person would react to the cup.
“Would it be an interesting object to use?” Mr. Raeder asked. “Would it be an attractive object to use or a repulsive object to use?”
Mr. Raeder chose the name “Better Lovers” for a number of reasons. One key factor was the emotional attachment people have to oft-used objects.
“We wanted to think that the objects in our lives were anthropomorphic,” Mr. Raeder said. “We were interested in thinking that the ceramics we made had emotions and attachments.”
Another reason was the obstacle of finding a name that was not already being used.
“We had to make sure that this name wasn’t taken,” Mr. Raeder said. “Marketing is a part of the business that we understand is important.”
Aside from the functional ceramics, Better Lovers also produces experimental hypnotism films.
“The films have no plot as they are experimental,” Mr. Raeder explained. “The end goal of the film is to teach you how to throw a pot on a pottery wheel without you ever sitting at the wheel.”
The idea came from an audiobook on how to improve your tennis in your sleep.
“The idea that you could listen to this tape and be in a trance that it would actually impact me was interesting,” Mr. Raeder stated. “I’m not sure of the efficacy of this, but we are interested in the visual language around hypnotism.”
Mr. Raeder does not discuss the business side of his ventures outside of school with his students.
“I don’t want students to focus or even think about how much their project is worth monetarily,” Mr. Raeder said. “But I think there is still value in talking about this kind of stuff—talking about teacher’s lives outside of school.”