Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Magnificent Mugs

A mug is a potter's signature piece. It's where we put our design sensibilities together with our visual passion. A mug should balance well when held in the hand, the lip should be smooth, the handle should be a pleasing shape relative to the vessel. Furthermore, it should be something you'd like to see as you wake up.

I've been a potter for over 30 years, so I'm a mug snob for sure. I like having one of a kind mugs instead of matchy-matchy sets. When I set out mugs for guests, I notice how everyone studies them before choosing one. No one just grabs the nearest mug. We all feel that elusive intuitive pull toward just the right vessel, and so its important to have a variety.

The mugs I chose all have great design and visual appeal. Top left is Butterfly Mug by Jewel Pottery. I love the detail in the stamped butterfly- very cheerful. The slightly closed mouth makes this least likely to tip and spill- great for when small kids are around.

Top right is Large Turquoise Mug by Hodaka Pottery. It's a classic, perfectly balanced shape with gorgeous glazes. I adore pottery without imagery, where the interplay of glaze is enough to fascinate and invite contemplation.

Bottom left is Starry Night Mug by Di Terra. It's doodle-y art at its best. I love how the curliecues really explore the mug's surface.

Bottom right is Porcelain Cup by Stepanka. The play of glazes and stains is visually stunning. The understated whimsy in her imagery is held together by great design skills.

Which would you choose?


  1. Tough question. I definitely get the personal connection to a mug. While my cabinets have many unique mugs collected over the years there are two I find myself reaching for more than the others - they have both a physical connection (meaning they fit my hand and mouth well) and the emotional connection (one was a gift from my wife and one I have had for 18 years and it has been with me most every working day of those 18 years.)

    Like I said, tough call but I would likely pick Porcelain Cup by Stepanka for its flower imagery and the Large Turquoise Mug by Hodaka Pottery for its colors and the shape of the handle which I think is unusual looking.

  2. Cool choices, Ken.

    It's a tough choice, huh?

  3. I love the third one. It reminds me of one that I already have that I paid way too much for, but the one that's pictured is so much nicer! I find handmade mugs to be so much better because of the fact that it's one of a kind.

  4. Krissy, I love that one, too.

    It just feels so creative, I think it would inspire me.

  5. I knew it before I read it! Spotted Hodaka's mug as his instantly :) He's one of my favorites because his outstanding glaze color really appeals to me.