OUR FAVORITE ROB GRIMES COFFEE MUGS LIVE ON AT THE NEWLY RENOVATED LAITY LODGE
Recently, when we placed the order to restock our iconic Laity Lodge coffee mugs, we marked the occasion by paying a visit to Rob Grimes’ pottery studio and showroom just north of San Antonio. We started the morning appropriately with cups of coffee at a nearby café before heading out Scenic Loop Road to learn a bit about our own history.
For more than three decades, Grimes’ modest coffee mugs have been a warming, earthy touchstone symbolizing all that’s experienced at Laity Lodge. Rows and rows of the glazed, ceramic pottery have stood sentinel—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—as women and men have made their way into the Dining Hall. Coffee is poured. Conversation ensues. Communion-ware with the same blue-brown-cream glaze serves guests on Sundays in the Great Hall.
Rob’s first connection with the Lodge goes back to the early 1960s.
“Actually, I remember driving by Laity Lodge. We were coming back from the San Angelo area, where we lived for about four years, driving into San Antonio. For some reason, we came down that road and stopped and looked over the overlook, down into the Canyon. I remember my parents saying that they were building this camp out there.”
As a young adult, Rob began making pottery full time in the early 1970s, studying at San Antonio College and San Antonio Art Institute. Then, sometime in the 1980s, Grimes had his second encounter with the Lodge.
“Bill Cody called me up and said, ‘We’re having this Creativity Week, and I wanted to know if you’d come out and teach pottery.’ I had never been out there,” Rob said, laughing. “I knew there was water and Baptists and you never can tell what might happen, so I would only agree to go for three days. I about fell in love. I baptized myself and then kept coming back for more.
“I went to Creativity Weeks for a while. I would teach pottery—a couple classes a day. There were people carrying on, doing stuff all the time—there was a liveliness to the Creativity Weeks that you didn’t always find in the other retreats.” Rob also taught some pottery during the first iteration of Family Camp and has even thrown pots while giving talks at Laity Lodge Youth Camp.
As we pull into the long driveway leading to Rob’s home and studio, we’re greeted by Rob and Morgan, his tri-color border collie. Soon, Gilbert Tovar, Rob’s studio manager for the last 27 years, arrives and makes quiet preparations for the day’s work. “Gilbert makes it all run,” Rob says. “If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t happen.”