The Etsy Blog

Short Stories: W.C. Fields Mug handmade and vintage goods

Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers. 

Today Kate Bertin shares the inspiration for her one-of-a-kind W.C. Fields stein, which is, as she explains in the listing, just the thing “for someone who loves grouchy old men.”

My husband grew up watching old movies — W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin — from his father’s film collection. While other children were watching Gilligan’s Island, my husband and his sisters were watching It’s a Gift and Duck Soup. This early exposure to the humor of the 1920s may have permanently warped my dear husband (just kidding, dear!). Every time he watches a Fields movie, he starts talking in W.C.’s nasal drawl. I suspect that he secretly wants to be the cranky curmudgeon W.C. Fields portrayed on screen — which would be fine, I suppose, until he wants me to play the overbearing, nagging wife!

I wasn’t a big W.C. Fields fan when I married my husband (more than 25 years ago now — whew!). But as I got older, and as I began to see the world a little more clearly, I grew to appreciate Fields’ basic cynicism and impish attempts to get his way in a world that often seems totally against him.

I started sculpting face mugs to create usable art — a way of practicing sculpture without leaving hundreds of tiny heads lying around the house. W.C. Fields just seemed a natural topic for a stein — after all, he was renowned for having a fondness for drink. As I sculpted him, looking at old pictures from the 1920s and ’30s, I discovered that although he wore a mask of dour cynicism, there seemed to be genuine warmth behind his eyes.

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