There is a Latin term for one who collects beermats or coasters: Tegestologist. I didn’t know this. So, if a dinosaur were alive today and it collected coasters, would he/she be called a Tegestoligist Rex? What? Never mind.
I prefer to think of the purposes that coasters serve, other than as collector’s items. Many of us know this: a good coaster will protect the finish on your table or bar. Of course, a coaster can serve as a marketing or advertising tool too. This practice is no longer exclusive to beer producers—and it extends beyond products into political and social campaigns. What’s really cool is that people can order custom coasters to commemorate significant events or milestones in their lives.
But there are a lot of cheesy versions of coasters out there, made from any number of materials—some more sustainable than others. The original coasters were made out of cardboard and paper and they originated in 1880 Germany—as beermats. Since that time, coasters are made with paper, cardboard, cork, wood, marble, sandstone, glass, enamel, stainless steel, concrete . . .
I find it funny that I am writing about coasters. I appreciate details and am meticulous about them in my craftsmanship, but I live in Montana. I spend as much time in the mountains as I can. This means that function is paramount in my life. Generally, things need a specific purpose and they need to fill that purpose well. There was a time when I wouldn’t have noticed anything about a coaster—except maybe that I hit it when I set down my beer—and even that was only occasionally. I never really thought about them—and if I had, I probably would have considered them superfluous.
But as you get older, you realize that things don’t last. You find a desire to protect your investments. I will argue with the best of them that a water ring on an old wooden table adds character. And I will also argue that too many rings compromises the finish and the integrity of the wood. Yet, I won’t run out and by some cheap coasters that I will throw out in 2 weeks. I am going to make coasters that will last as long as the table, so I don’t have to buy them again, and I don’t use more resources than necessary. I am also going to make something that feels good in my hand, evokes a memory of a rich time in my life and doubles as a paperweight, or doorstop. Now that’s form and function.
If I were a dinosaur, I suppose I’d be a Frugalsaurus Rex.
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