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Handmade Mug Guide

Handmade Ceramic Mugs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Let's dive into the wonderful world of crafting your own ceramic mugs! Here's a friendly guide to help you create beautiful and personalized mugs:

  1. Prepare Your Workspace Cover your work area with a canvas for a clean and organized setup. Place two rulers (such as a broken yardstick) on the canvas to guide your creativity.

  2. Flatten the Clay Start by conditioning a ball of clay and gently pressing it flat between the palms of your hands. Place the clay between the rulers and roll it out until you achieve a smooth, flat slab.

TIP: Remember to find the right thickness for your slab. It shouldn't be thinner than your pinky (as it may become too fragile and break), nor thicker than your thumb (which would require a hole for moisture to escape, causing potential expansion and breakage). I find using these measurements helpful.

  1. Create the Base Use a cookie cutter to cut out a base shape from the clay slab. This will be the foundation of your mug.

  2. Craft the Wall Repeat the previous steps to create a 3"x12" slab, which will serve as the wall of your mug. If you'd like to add decorative impressions on the outer wall using cling or rubber stamps, now is the time to do it.

Keep in mind that making impressions may press out your clay, so you might need to trim off a bit in the next step.

  1. Build the Mug You have two options to assemble your mug, and I can't decide which I prefer:

    a) Method 1: Score and Connect Score the outer sides of the base and the lower inner side of the wall. Dip a paintbrush in slip (a mixture of liquid clay) and apply it to the scored areas. Carefully wrap the wall around the base until the two ends meet. Trim any excess clay. Score the sides of the ends and join them together securely.

    b) Method 2: Score and Slim Score the outer top area of the base and the bottom of the wall slab to create a narrower mug design.

  2. Add Personal Touches At this stage, you can score small pieces of clay to attach or wait for the clay to dry a bit before carving into it. This curing process will take several hours and bring your mug to a leather-like stage.

A fun idea is to cover your mug with plastic for a while, then create roses and leaves that you can later add. Let your creativity flow!

  1. Handle with Care Handles can be a bit challenging, but fear not! Follow these steps for an easier experience: Pinch off a piece of clay and roll it into a narrow shape. Use wet fingers to mold the clay into your desired handle style. Once you have a handle you like, audition it on the mug to check the height and ensure your fingers can comfortably fit through. Attach the handle using the same technique as when connecting the slab to the mug base.

TIP: Remember not to wait too long to attach the handle or any embellishments. Adding wet clay to dry clay may result in cracks.

  1. Refine the Details Allow your mugs to rest under the plastic cover for a while. When ready, take them one by one and use water and a sponge to shape the top ridge. Aim for a round, smooth edge that's pleasing to drink from. Clean up any rough areas where you handle the mug and where all the edges connect. Attention to detail makes a difference!

  2. Patience and Firing Wait until your mugs are completely dry, reaching the greenware stage, before proceeding. Once dry, fire them in your kiln at cone 04 on a slow speed setting.

  3. Reveal the Bisque Mugs After cooling, carefully remove the mugs from the kiln. Voilà! Now you have bisque mugs, ready for the next step.

  4. Add Color and Glaze Get ready to infuse your mugs with vibrant personality! Use your favorite underglazes to add color and let your creativity shine. Once you're satisfied with the colors, apply a clear glaze for that glossy finish.

  5. Final Firing Return your mugs to the kiln and fire them again, this time at cone 06 on a medium speed setting. This will ensure the glaze fuses perfectly, bringing your mugs to their final state of beauty.

Congratulations on creating your very own set of handmade ceramic mugs! These unique creations reflect your artistic talent and personal style. Enjoy using them for sipping your favorite beverages and share the joy of your craftsmanship with others. Happy crafting!