Making mugs

I've been working on a potter's wheel for about 15 years, and it's taken me that long to create beautiful and functional bowls, vases, plates, covered jars and especially mugs. I love making mugs.

For one thing, they're quick to throw: just over a pound of clay that I pull up as a cylinder. Every beginning student begins with a cylinder, and it's always good practice to make a few just to practice basic skills.

As I become more proficient, I can play around with the shape, indenting it, as I have in the mug above, or bowing it out . Pulling and applying a handle is a whole other skill, and for most of us, it's harder than making the mug.

As I make the cylinder and the handle, I ask myself: Is the shape conducive to drinking? Does the handle feel comfortable in the hand? Functional ware has to be, well, functional. It has to work for the user.

Decorating and glazing add another layer of decisions. This mug is dipped in two different glazes, top and bottom. Pretty simple. But I could carve into the leatherhard mug, or I could paint on slip and then carve through (sgraffito). The possibilities are endless.

And finally, there are the kiln gods who work their magic with heat and fire. The finished mug is a combination of my skills as a potter and the forces of chemistry and physics.

I'm endlessly interested in creating mugs, and I never have any difficulty finding homes for them. Everyone loves a hand-made mug.


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