Look what came home from Nottingham

Starbucks Shrine
Starbucks Shrine

I had been wondering what had happened to this piece which I found at my mother’s last weekend.  I have looked for it a number of times when I do talks about my work as it’s one of my favourites and is an early example of something I went on to make quite a lot of: fabric shrines.  I made this one several years ago after I went to the American Academy of Management Conference in Seattle which is the site of the first Starbucks shop.

I was really interested that there was an assumption that as a management academic you would want to go down to that first shop and do some sort of obeisance.  I resisted until almost the end of the conference but eventually cracked and sure enough there was a bunch of academics all taking pictures for their scrapbooks or their teaching – who knows?

Starbucks Original Store, Pike Place, Seattle
Starbucks Original Store, Pike Place, Seattle

I became quite interested in this phenomenon.  This first shop has become a tourist site.  What is it about this company and this product that produces such loyalty in the US at least?  There seemed to be some devotion to it which we don’t quite understand in the UK.  I read a satirical piece in The Onion, which sadly I lost, about the need to be near a Starbucks at all times leading Starbucks to put branches of Starbucks in their restrooms.  So I thought a small portable shrine would be a nice thing for a real fan to have.  Inside is the original company logo taken from the photo I took in Seattle:

Starbucks Shrine - detail
Starbucks Shrine - detail

This highly ornate style is also characteristic of the work I went on to do.  It has a lot of beading and a lot of machine embroidery.  The outside of the shrine is made with layers of synthetic fabric which is burned back with a soldering iron and the interior is a nice metallic fabric bondawebbed onto vilene.  The design of the piece is not great, though.  It has never really stood up and there isn’t a way to weight it which doesn’t require sewing it shut which defeats the object a bit.  My later shrines are free standing, but can look more like tea cosies than shrines, so if I ever make any more it will be a design problem I will need to solve.

Incidentally, the mug is my charming husband’s satirical anti-Royalist Royal Wedding mug designed by the cartoonist, Steve Bell.  I put it in to give the scale.

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