Handmade Crafts: Tips on Making Handmade Coffee Mugs

Posted by on Nov 06, 2019


Coffee mugs are highly personal items.


You must have a favorite mug that you use every morning, and every time you feel like you need some perking up.

If you want the best mug to put your coffee, better make it yourself. There’s nothing like sipping your favorite brew on handmade coffee mugs that you made all your own. Be bold and use your creativity. Learning the pottery craft and artistry that goes with making a good coffee mug will be highly satisfying.

Soon enough, you’ll have an extensive collection of mugs that you’ve personalized yourself that fits your distinct style, comfort, and every mood.

Tips on Choosing Clay for Your Project

Before making a handmade mug, it’s important to understand the nature of clay, which is basically the main requirement when making a coffee mug.

Take note that the clay that’ll become your coffee mug will shrink after it’s been dried and fired. The entire process can shrink the mug for up to 15%. Thus, it’s important to make an allowance beforehand so you can reach the ideal volume mug size once it has been fired and cooled. You don’t want to end up with a small mug that won’t keep up with your coffee drinking habits.

Keep in mind that different clays have different qualities. As a guide, you can choose one depending on the type of effects and outcome you want.

Here are different clays you can use:

  • Earthenware Clays - Earthenware clays have been used since ancient times. Compared to other clays earthenware clay will not shrink as much. Earthenware is soft and easy to work with, but the end result is more breakable.

It’s important to apply glaze to earthenware clay. Otherwise, it won’t be fit to hold any liquid.

The colors for earthenware clay range from brown to white. Earthenware produces a more intense and vivid color since it’s fired at lower temperatures

  • Stoneware Clays - It’s flexible to work with and easy to sculpt into any shape. Stoneware clays will typically have a color of light gray, to medium gray, and brown when fired.

Glaze attaches to stoneware clay well. It’s an excellent material for making coffee mugs and even other kitchenware, like plates.

  • Porcelain or Kaolin Clays - Porcelain clay is also known as kaolin clay. It’s the most refined clay. If you want more details in your work, porcelain clay is a good choice since it’s strong even when spread at its thinnest. Porcelain clay can withstand higher temperatures.

Porcelain is not as workable as other clay and has lower plasticity. Potters usually mix porcelain clay with other clays to make it softer and more movable.

Porcelain is very sturdy, smooth, and it can be manipulated into any form. This will give you a chance to form delicate shapes and accents to your mug.

The Process of Making Handmade Coffee Mugs with Clay

Manipulating clay shouldn’t be intimidating or complicated. Anyone with sufficient creativity and skills can create a beautiful pottery mug.

Good equipment makes the art of making pottery mug simpler, but the only essential gear you need for this project is a potter’s wheel, some clay, and a kiln to complete the process of firing your mug.

Here’s the process of making handmade coffee mugs:

  1. Have Lots of Clay

You need a substantial amount of clay in this project. As mentioned above, there are three types of clay. The amount and type will depend on the size of the mug you want and the effect you’re aiming for.

To start with, have 1 ½ pound of clay ready. The initial step is to carefully knead the clay to remove air in it. You need to have clay with smooth consistency without any air pockets. This step is called wedging. Make sure you’ve spent some time kneading the clay. The next step is to form the clay into a ball.

  1. Potter’s Wheel

Put the clay on the potter’s wheel on the bat. The wheel bat is the flat circular disk that’s attached to the pottery wheel head. The clay needs to be wet in order for it to sit firmly on the bat. Wet your hands and the clay so the clay will fit snugly in place.

  1. Shaping Your Mug With A Potter’s Wheel

Spin the potter’s wheel and make sure the ball of clay is in the center. Press your thumb at the center of the clay, but don’t push it too far down. The bottom of your mug should have enough thickness to keep it sturdy.

Next, insert your other thumb on the hole to make it wider. Keep turning your potter’s wheel and allow the spinning force to do the work to expand the hole according to your specifications.

After, move your other hand on the outside to shape the exterior of the mug while your other hand is inside. Do this until you have the desired shape and thickness.

  1. Shaping Your Mug By Hand

If you feel that using a potter’s wheel is too complicated, you can always shape your mug by hand. You may find this more comfortable because you have more control over the clay. However, it’ll take much more time and effort. 

Just like with the potter’s wheel, you have to keep the clay and your hands wet and moist. Achieve your desired shape by maneuvering and rolling the clay. Make sure the final result is smooth, even, and balanced looking.

  1. Attaching the Handles

Roll a piece of clay to form a sausage-like shape. You can manipulate the shape according to your needs and comfort. Attach this handle to the mug while smoothing out the joints.

Make sure the handle is firmly attached to the body so it will not crack when fired by reinforcing the joints with bits of clay. You can attach the handle where you feel it’s most comfortable for you.

  1. Glazing Your Coffee Mug

Wait for the clay to dry before glazing. It’s crucial to glaze your coffee mug because the glaze adds a protective layer to the mug. The glaze is used to waterproofing your mug as well as to color and decorate it. Glazing makes the coffee mug ready for holding liquids, in this case, your favorite cup of joe.

  1. Firing Your Coffee Mug in The Kiln

You need a proper kiln to finish the process of firing your coffee mug. Firing the coffee mug will alter its components so it’ll harden and be usable. You may need to ask a professional to fire your mug properly. Allow the kiln to cool before removing your coffee mug.

Tips on Decorating Your Coffee Mug

The best part of making your handmade coffee mug is the decorating part. This is the step where your individuality and artistry will shine. What you need to decorate your coffee mug properly is the right kind of paint and tools.

Here are just some of the materials and ideas that will help you personalize your handmade coffee mug:

  • Porcelain paint - Porcelain pant is highly versatile and can be applied directly to the mug.

If you want more depth and long-lasting color, you have to use porcelain paint with a kiln. This requires firing the coffee mug in a kiln to allow your porcelain paint to adhere and settle on the surface. The result is an artwork with intense and vivid colors.

  • Metallic Colors - You can decorate your handmade mug with metallic colors to give it a unique and luxurious appeal. There are porcelain metallic colors you can use for mugs. Use the metallic color to accent any part of your mug.

To make your mug truly personalized, you can use metallic paint to write your initials or your name. You can search online for the kind of font that appeals to you in order to make your coffee mug unmistakably yours.

  • Nail Polish - You can decorate your mug with nail polish. Looking at your local beauty store, you’ll see that there are tons of colors to choose from.

Certain types of nail polish can give the watercolor effect, and this can give you great ideas on decorating your mug. You can go for just a simple design by adding a splash of color to make your coffee mug eye-catching, or you can opt for a more complicated drawing if you have advanced art skills.

  • Chalkboard Paint - You can be funny every morning by using chalkboard paint on your coffee mug. Chalkboard paint allows you to make personalized messages on a coffee mug using chalk.

Are you serving coffee for someone else? Brighten up their morning by adding a cheery note on the coffee mug.

  • Vinyl Stick-on - You can make beautiful patterns with vinyl stick-on. If you’re not confident with your painting skills, you can download a template and cut it. Then, you can use a vinyl stick-on to attach messages and detailed graphic art on your mug.

Final Thoughts

People are so used to buy ready-made things that they forget the joy of crafting everyday items by themselves. Making your coffee mug may be intimidating at first because not everyone would have pottery and art skills. However, the process and the journey of making your handmade coffee mugs will be satisfying as you increase your know-how and create beautiful pieces that you know are made with love and conform to personal taste.

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  • by justinhotban
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