Mug Making Ideas

A couple of months ago John Bauman wrote a post about making mugs and I’ve had it in mind to respond ever since. John makes an argument for a simple straight sided cylinder with a turned foot and he extolls the virtues of those horrible diner mugs (the ones that often come filled with tepid hot water for your tea!). I hope that this doesn’t end our ‘bro-mance’, but I must wholeheartedly disagree! My pots are almost always about curves and the intersection where two curved lines meet. I make two basic mug forms: one is a tankard style based on those found in medieval European pots and the other form is a smaller round cup. 
gotta love the slip…
I’ve seen this round cup form in lots of old pots…Persian, Chinese, medieval and English slipware, but nobody made it better than Eddie Hopkins. I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I have a small series of slides of Ed throwing and handling 500 mugs like this in less than a 5 day week! The beauty of this little one is a full round outward curve which changes rather abruptly to an inside curve that flares out just a little bit. Someday I’ll write about the different ideas of ’round’. This size is made from about 3/4 lb. of clay and usually gets a ‘one finger’ handle.
18 ozs.
This tankard style is the one I’ve made the most of…thousands and thousands. It has the extra added fun of having three distinct segments and I play with the different relationships between them…sometime the bottom bit is very round, sometimes more subtle like the one above. And sometimes the ‘waist’ is higher or lower. The handle springs from the rolled ring that I leave at the top. That little feature is one of the threads that holds my work together. I like how glazes break and salt attacks there.
This is the fruits of last fall’s labors…
Because I see mugs as an everyday item and I make lots of them I would never put a foot on mine. I do give them a fairly thin lip…anyone (man or woman) with a serious mustache will know that thick rims can be dangerous!
Next Up: TeaBowls: Overhyped Juice Cups 

8 Responses to “Mug Making Ideas”

  1. Anna

    Since I have actually HEARD this lecture several times, I could hear your voice as I read. I’m glad to have it written down for reference! And the slip? Yummy!

  2. Lori Buff

    A mug is such a personal item, I don’t know that users interact with any of our pieces more intimately. Therefore, the perfect shape of the mug, lip and handle is up to the ultimate user. We have to decided if we want to try to make various mugs so everyone can like one or make mugs that we like and know others will like them too.

  3. John Bauman

    One of these days, Alice, POW! …straight to the moon!

    I can’t be wrong. I did all the calculations, ran it by the staff (Breeze, Ariel, and “The Men” — Moose and Crush). If nothing else, we outnumber you. So now are you going to dare disparage democracy? I thought not.

    Okay, truth be told I’m a marketing slut. My “staightwalled” soliloquy was but one side of me — a very complex and troubled individual who is known to have made the case for different shapes as well. Call me Sybil…I mean, call him Sybil. Or us. Either one. Or two. I lost count.

    But see?


    your mother wears army boots.

  4. cookingwithgas

    I am happy with my mug of the moment.
    I go through my kitchen cabinet and fall in love with the straight sided one today- and tomorrow it is the short round one and the next day it is….
    If you can hold it, fill it and drink out of it and it is HANDMADE not from a MACHINE- I will try it.
    No mug is safe from my lips.
    I guess I am a love the one you are with person.
    But good post.

  5. Incognito

    John Bauman cracks me up; I love making mugs, but also love buying them. When I make them, mine tend to go all over the place, but my best ones have been more straight sided–a happy accident, perhaps?


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