How designer Erin McCutcheon is combining her love of moustaches and cookies

How designer Erin McCutcheon is combining her love of moustaches and cookies

“I might be in the wrong profession,” says Erin McCutcheon, an artist and designer who prefers to call herself a “maker.” It’s fitting, then, that she sells her porcelain lamps and decorative ceramic pieces at the Dundas West design haven Made. “I don’t really like the idea of people being materialistic.” Instead, McCutcheon prefers to design for herself. But she’s not selfish: McCutcheon recently donated soup bowls to the Gardiner Museum’s annual Empty Bowls charity event. Over chai tea and a gingham tablecloth, the ginger-haired Haligonian shares her love of moustaches, cowboys and sugar cookies.

Erin McCutcheon in her Toronto studio (Photo by Jenna Marie Wakani) 

How did you get involved with this year’s Empty Bowls project?
I made five porcelain bowls, each with a different pattern of tiny bumps, outlined by hand with a black-blue pencil. I left all signs of the handmade on them—if there were bumps and wrinkles after moulding them, they stayed.

You make objects in small batches. Would you feel as connected to something you designed if there were 100,000 of them and not 100?

I don’t think I would. For the person buying it, it’s more of a special object if they know they’ve got one of 100. I’ve been working on a series of jars for about two years now—moulding existing jars and recasting them—and I’ve got them all numbered. They’re all one of a kind. Instead of cleaning them up perfectly, how they come out of the mould is how I make them. I sand the outsides, because sanded porcelain is really beautiful and tactile.

Do you design all your objects to be used or are some just to be admired?

I have some decorative pieces, like a couple of giant porcelain thimbles I made for [Canadian design collective] Motherbrand. Those are just pretty, but I would like everything to be used. I’m working on a line of porcelain moustache cookie cutters with Andrée Wejsmann, another designer and friend. The series we’re doing right now is of cowboy moustaches, like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok. Next we’re doing the Beatles’.

One of the designer's bowls (Photo by Jenna Marie Wakani) 

And do you actually use these moustache cookie cutters?
Yeah, I’ve been making a lot of organic sugar cookies.

From scratch or a package?
From scratch! There’s a health food store on Roncesvalles called Evergreen, and I get most of my ingredients there.

Who has the best moustache in Toronto?
There’s a bartender at The Local who has an amazing one. It’s pencil thin, with curly points and a lot of wax. My friend Rob Southcott also has a fabulous moustache. He’s a great designer.

Empty Bowls. $45. May 20. Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8085,