Friday, 21 February 2014

From the Studio - the making of a mug

Today's studio series is brought to you by Natalie of Remembrances.

 Sometimes it seams like mugs are the bread and butter of a potter's earnings, so I thought I would share the process with you.

Please excuse the lighting.  Most of the time I work in my basement as pottery making is such a messy affair.
One of the most important steps is to wedge your clay, which basically consists of whapping the lump of clay over and over again on an absorbent surface.  This removes air bubbles and aligns all the clay particles.

If you happen to have a slab roller, you can roll out your clay to a nice even thickness with it.  
I use a rolling pin.

Smooth out the surface with a metal rib (this prevents cracking later on as it also aligns the clay particles).
Cut the slab to the size you want, depending on the vessel you are making.

Score the edges, and apply water or joining slip (depending on how wet/dry your clay is).

Wrap the clay around your tube.  Make sure to wrap your tube in newspaper first or you will never get it off.
Gently press the seam down.

Wedge another small ball of clay for the base.

 Roll it out and cut out a circle just slightly larger than your tube.

Score the clay at the bottom of your tube, and around the edge of your base...

 ...apply water or joining slip, and gently attach them together.

 Use a metal rib to smooth out the seam (at the bottom and down the side)...

...and wipe it down with a damp sponge.

 Roll out a coil of clay, and wrap it up overnight to set up a little bit.

 Cover the tube with plastic and let it set up overnight.
(you can probably tell - these are going to be beer steins, not mugs, but the process is the same).

 Remove the newspaper from the center of the tube and clean up the inside.  If you want to belly out your pot (on the right) or add texture, now is the time to do it.
Make your handle from the coil - flatten it, roll it, pull it, etc. and attach it to the mug (score and slip), smoothing out all the creases and marks.
Loosely wrap it in plastic to allow it to dry slowly.

Load it into the bisque kiln for the first firing.

 After bisque firing, you can still sand it down a little bit if you have left fingerprints, scratches, etc.

Wax the bottom of the mug.
Glaze as desired.
Fire it again.

Ta-da! Obviously, these are not the same mugs.  The beer steins are awaiting glazing and will be fired at a later date, but here are some finished mugs none-the less.

Remembrances is one of the confirmed artists for the
in August.  It's a great family event worth checking out.


  1. Those are lovely!! Especially the one with tentacles!!

  2. How interesting, thanks for sharing the process, I've always wondered about that.