Celebrating Sara’s Moss scuttle

Moss Scuttle-csA few years ago, Contrarian‘s participation in the now-obscure practice of wet shaving was rescued by a Nova Scotia invention, the Moss Scuttle, a unique collaboration between a Tatamagouche potter and the town doctor.

This Saturday, from 2-4 p.m., Thanksgiving weekend tourists will have a chance to visit Sara Bonnyman’s pottery studio for her first ever open house. The event will celebrate the 35th anniversary of  this remarkable business (recently given new vigor by worldwide sales of the Moss Scuttle) and raise funds for the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital in Tatamagouche.

A bit of background:

Chris Moss, a Tatamagouche physician, is even more of a shavegeek than Contrarian. He uses an old fashioned straight razor (ouch!) and a badger brush (ahhh!) for his morning ritual. Unable to find a proper scuttle, the antique, double-walled bowl traditionally used to keep lather warm, he designed one himself, and asked Sara to make it.

Chris was so delighted with the first Moss Scuttle, he posted information about it on Shavemyface.com. What followed is a classic example of the long tail theory of Internet marketing. At Chris’s suggestion, Sara sent a scuttle to Shaveblog.com, resulting in a rave review, and hundreds of additional orders.

One of Contrarian‘s fondest memories is of “shaving” with his father. Dad would remove the Blue Blade from his Gillette Safety Razor, and let me use his French-made, badger-hair brush to work a dollop of Gillette Shaving Cream into a rich lather on my six-year-old face. Then I would carefully scrape off the foam with the empty razor, just the way Dad did.

Sometime around 2000, wet shaving became almost impossible to sustain in North America. Top quality badger brushes, once sold at every drug store, became harder and harder to find. First Gillette, then Palmolive, and finally Noxema stopped making tube-style non-aerosol shaving cream.

Long tail to the rescue. There are now several online sources of good shaving equipment (here, here, and here). Italian and German manufacturers have filled the shaving cream gap with better products than Gillette, Palmolive, or  Noxema ever made. Proraso and Nivea (formerly Florena) are now readily available at Lawton’s and Shopper’s.

But Sara’s Moss Scuttle is what seals the deal, bringing added warmth to morning shave. It’s available in two sizes at her Tatamagouche studio (one mile from the town post office on Route 246) or by mail.

Sara is the sister of the late Kate Carmichael. She once spent a summer on Sable Island, helping her psychologist father carry out research on seal navigation.  She started the pottery studio as something to do when her psychology and English degrees failed to produce employment.

“I had no thought it would become a lifelong venture,” she said.

Sara has made ten dozen stemless wineglasses for the open house. These will be filled with mulled wine and sold for $10 each, all proceeds to the hospital auxiliary. The local ScotiaBank is matching every dollar raised.