The artistic ability of a drug store saleswoman has started a novel coffee cup fad in Gravette, and confirmed downtown coffee drinkers enjoy an unusual distinction in consequence. Mrs. Everett Smith, who paints china as a hobby, designed and painted a personal coffee cup for her employer, drug store owner Charles Lambert, about 18 months ago, embellishing it with his name and a bouquet of flowers. From time to time he drank coffee from it, and the store's customers noted its resemblance to old-fashioned shaving mugs of the 1890's.
“I liked the cup so well,” said Lambert, "that Mrs. Smith and I thought our regular coffee drinkers would like to have a personal coffee cup too.”
About 4 months ago Mrs. Smith started painting cups, and Lambert had a wall rack made to hold 70 cups. Since then she has spent most of her spare time painting cups for the rack. Thirty are finished at this writing and 15 more are in production.
"Everyone needs a hobby, so I took up painting on china," Mrs. Smith said, "and it has been a lot of fun, as well as a skill that enables me to make nice gifts for my friends."
She started china painting 3 years ago and has been taking two lessons each month from Mrs. Stella Walker of Siloam Springs. Mrs. Walker is a well known art teacher, and has her own kiln for firing china.
"At first we painted on cheap china," Mrs Smith said, "but now most of what I paint is Bavarian china. It takes the paint so much better and is so pretty."
A special powder mixed with oil is used for the work, and this makes it easier to get any shading of color. The picture is first sketched on the china, then painted lightly, then put into a kiln and fired for several hours at a very high temperature.
The china is repainted and refired as many as four or five times, until the more vivid colors are brought out.
"People have been a lot more interested in my painting since they have seen the cups," said Mrs. Smith, "and most people think the cup rack is just like the mug racks they used to have at barber shops." Mrs. Smith's hand-painted cups give an extra lift to the coffee," declared R. Dodie Evans, Gravette's only editor, who was one of the first to have a cup with his name on it.
Evans was named Poet of the Future for the State of Arkansas following the publication of his first book of poems earlier this year. It is entitled, "Dark Days and Black Nights."
Mrs. Smith working on one of the many cups she has personalized for her customers
Mrs. Smith handing a cup of coffee to R. Dodie Evans, the editor of the local Gravette newspaper.
Mr. Evans enjoying a morning cup of coffee at Lambert Drug store