Category Archives: Mugs

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re like me, you pride yourself in finding the perfect gift for your friends and family! You’re on a quest to find something that is both unique and a great match for their personality and interests and sometimes that’s really hard!  I’m here to help you make a match!

My Etsy shop is well stocked for all of your holiday gift needs.  Use coupon code: STAR2015 for 20% off of your purchase. Please note: all orders placed between Dec 3-12 will be shipped on Dec 14-15.  Orders on other dates will ship, as usual, in 1-3 business days.  

Here are a roundup of ideas if you’re stumped on what to get some folks on your holiday list!


For your favorite knitter:
This mug has a rich surface both visually and physically.  The dots feel great in your hands when you’re cupping the bottom of this mug. Available in my Etsy shop and at Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago.  Emily Murphy Pottery knit mug


For households with (or without!) kids:
These foaming soap dispensers are great for anyone who uses soap (which is everyone!), and they are especially great for households with kids.  The foam is really easy for them to spread on their hands, and the heft of the dispenser means it’ll stay put and not get knocked over easily.  I also have a selection of non-foaming dispensers in my shop. Both are available at Gallery 360 in Minneapolis.Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain foam soap dispensers


For folks with kids or with pets:
Travel mugs / lidded cups are great when you have little beings (kids or furry friends) running around and running the risk of knocking over your precious, and much needed cup of coffee.  These lids will help minimize the spillage and keep your drink hot! They can be used with or without the lid and are microwave/ dishwasher safe.  They come in a variety of sizes of styles/ sizes/ shapes. Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain travel mug


For those on the go:
These travel tumblers with silicone lids are perfect for that special someone who is always on the go- commuting to work, heading off to a pottery class or hanging out in the back yard and want to keep the bees out of their beverage! They come in a rainbow of colors and the texture of the dots keep this handle-less mug from slipping in your hand.Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain travel tumblers


For the special kid in your life:
Kids love using real pots and I love making special pots just for them!  As adults, we try to limit the exposure kids have to plastic and what is a better alternative to our plastic saturated world than one of a kind, handmade porcelain mugs!  These mini-mugs sell out quickly and I’m continually making more, so be sure to check back regularly for more colors and designs!
Emily Murphy Pottery kid sized cups


For your favorite gardener:
These vintage seed packet mugs are generous in size (they hold a whole pint!).  Fill the mug with a selection of actual packets of seeds or some hand tools  and help your favorite gardener dream of spring! 
IMG_1353


For a graphic designer:
This thrown and altered “cut and paste” plate is the perfect gift for the graphic designer in your life!
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain squared plate


For the host(ess) with the mostess:
It can be hard to find a small, inexpensive AND handmade gift! You might need one for your kid’s teacher, for a host(ess), for a neighbor that brings in your mail when you’re away or to have on hand in case someone unexpectedly gives you a thoughtful gift and you want to have one to be able to reciprocate! These little dishes  are just $20 (plus 20% off that with coupon code STAR2015). They’re perfect for dipping dishes, spoon rest + teabag holder, jewelry holders or an infinite number of other uses! Chopsticks not included – but you could add a couple of pairs or a box of tea to make a sweet little gift! Emily Murphy Pottery dipping dishes


For the new homeowner (or apartment dweller):
My porcelain honey pots are the perfect gift for someone who has just moved into a new home.  Or maybe you know that they LOVE honey. Pair with a jar of local honey to make a thoughtful wedding gift or housewarming gift!
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain honey pots with dots
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain honey pots


For the coffee lover:
And of course the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life is a handmade porcelain mug! Everyone has a preference for the perfect type of mug.  Some like a BIG mug.  Others like a smaller, americano sized cup.  Some prefer mugs with a narrow opening to keep their beverage extra hot.  And some like a mug with a tactile surface that they can feel while quietly enjoying their morning tea.

You can pair a handmade mug with a bag of your favorite coffee. Mine is Terra Nova which is my brother’s coffee roasting company located in Surry, NH.  You can buy some here
Emily Murphy Pottery curvy mugs
Emily Murphy Pottery americano cups

Or you can pair it with a print of this this and include it with their new mug.  I include the ounces that each cup holds in the descriptions in my Etsy shop so if you know someone’s favorite beverage, you can use this chart to be sure you’re getting a mug that fits their favorite espresso drink (you just have to convert ML to OZ).
espresso


*Don’t forget that orders placed between Dec 3-12 will ship on Dec 14-15.  All other orders will ship in the usual 1-3 business days.  Plenty of time to arrive before Christmas!

Emily Murphy Pottery sale

Thank you so much for supporting me throughout the years! It brings me so much joy to be able to do what I love and send my pots out into the world!

If there is something that you’re wishing that you could find, but don’t see in my shop, just ask.  My full inventory is not listed online and I still have 1 decal firing to go before Christmas!

the not so long lost blogger

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Nearly two years, to be exact. It’s funny, because even though it’s been that long, I still consider myself a blogger. I finally decided that I should just dive back in and write. I’ll fill in some of the blanks now, but some of them later. If I tried to fit 2 years into a single post, it just wouldn’t happen. Actually, that has been part of the problem. So I will mostly go ahead as though my last post was just a few days ago. Thanks for still being around to read this.

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My time in my studio has been quite regular lately.  I haven’t been the most prolific potter (more on that later). I still feel like I’m finding my way in a new world (porcelain…oxidation…electric kiln…new glazes…). But I am also loving the feeling like everything I do is a choice. There are no default answers. I’m trying to really let myself be in that moment for a while.

Mostly I have been on the wheel, but I have been venturing off a bit lately to do some handbuilding. I’ve been trying to keep the timing of things pretty reasonable, not throwing more than I can trim/handle/decorate in a timely manner. Sometimes the pace of handbuilding fits right into that schedule.

I can’t seem to make too many mugs. I can make mugs for months and still manage to not have any in stock. So I make more…. I am not complaining at all. I absolutely love mugs. Making them and using them.

I seem to be stockpiling bisque right now. When it’s time to glaze, I really take over my whole studio (who doesn’t?). So I decided that for this round I will have enough for 2-3 glaze kilns full of work. I am also working on some decals for some of my pieces. So when the time comes for that, I can focus my energy there.

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I know that one of the reasons why I still feel like a blogger is because of Facebook. I have been keeping up my Emily Murphy Facebook page pretty regularly with updates, photos and sharing things that I think you might find interesting. And it’s been a great way to have a dialog with other potters, bloggers and lovers of clay. I have really appreciated this outlet over the past few years. Facebook has been making changes lately to try to get people with professional pages like this to pay to have our content reach more than a handful of people. I know that I can’t see myself being able to pay for that, so I’m hoping that you’ll try to work around the system a bit. There are a couple of ways that you can make sure that you’re getting updates from pages like mine. One is that when you “like” a page, you have to make sure that it also has the “show in News Feed” setting (see image below)

The other way is to interact with the page. The more you “like” or comment on something, the more likely it is going to show up in your newsfeed. And a bonus is that it makes things more fun for everyone! Part of what prompted me to resume blogging is because this reminded me that blogging is a better way to make sure you’re reaching people who want to be reached. And for having content that is archived and searchable. For me… for now… there isn’t going to be one outlet or the other. I’m going to keep blogging and keep updating things on Facebook. And I hope that you’ll come with!

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And on a personal note…

This is my daughter, Ada. She was born on April 9, 2011 and has been the most amazing distraction from writing, making pots… sleeping.  (although now she is a champion sleeper, hence the time back in the studio and on the computer…)

Is it ok if I add one more?

Me and my girl

 

Assignment: Exploring a form, part 1

I taught advanced throwing and soda firing classes at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago for the past 10 years. I’m not currently teaching, but I am giving myself assignments. It’s something that I’ve always done to push myself to discover new forms, new surfaces and refine the old standards. Last month, Michael Kline posted an assignment on his blog, 12 before noon. Blog readers  had a lot of fun with, so I’d share the assignments that I give to myself.

So here is first part my favorite self assignment.

  • Pick a form. Something simple: mugs, small bowls, tea bowls, etc…
  • Pick a weight for the piece. If it’s cups, I usually do a small range: 3/4 lbs – 1 1/4 lbs. If it’s plates, I usually pick the same weight. Maybe 3 lbs. I did mugs this week, so all the descriptions below are for mugs.
  • Weigh out and wedge up at least 12 pieces. (Do more if you can. The more the better. Do 40 or 50.)
  • Think about the different parts of the form: lip, handle, foot, curves… Think about how these parts relate to one another.
  • Consider future glazing and decorating. Segment the form for clear places to decorate. Add lines for a glaze to break. If it’s going to be fired in an atmospheric kiln, think about where the liner glaze will stop.
  • What will the cup be used for? it might be used for: coffee, tea, cocoa, latte, espresso.., and
  • Think about who might use it and where. A coffee cup for the office, a mug for a nightly cup of Sleepytime Tea, etc… Is the cup going to be cradled and savored? Should it have a narrower opening to keep the coffee extra hot? If the user has little kids or pets, something with a wide, stable base is really important.
  • Start throwing – different forms. Push each form to be different from the previous one. Some will be radically different. Some with be variations on earlier pieces. Some you’ll love, some you’ll want to smush. But don’t, yet. You’ll want to study it to figure out why it didn’t work and might discover why part of it did.

Note: All these pieces shown below are porcelain in greenware/leather hard state. They are not decorated yet- that’s not part of this part of the assignment. (btw, I took these quick snapshots on my new studio photography set-up. Blog post about that coming up!) I want a form to be able to be strong and stand on it’s own regardless of the decoration, glaze or firing of the piece. So to study them in a leather hard state is perfect.

I shared some quick thoughts about the forms below each grouping (which are in no particular order). These notes are not at all comprehensive, deep critiques, just quick gut reactions to the forms. Feel free to just look at the images. Or if you want to know what my thoughts are about them, you can read the notes.

group 1:

top left: I’m usually a no-trim mug kinda potter. But I’ve really been loving the yunomi/mug hybrid. I love how the handle placement is so obvious.

top right: This is a standard form for me. I love how it feels to hold when you’re drinking from it, but I don’t love the handle placement. Need to push this more.

bottom left: Great for atmospheric firing. Top third can be glazed and has room to run.

bottom right: Eh- not my favorite. But playing around with yunomi hybrid.

group 2:
a

top left: I like the easy curves of this piece. But I think I want it to feel “fuller”

top right: Standard “diner” mug. Should try it thicker- with a heftier lip. But that’s hard for me to do!

bottom left: I like that the top and bottom of the handle have obvious placement. The curves and lines of this mug will be great in a soda or wood kiln.

bottom right: The form a a bit weak for my taste. But this type of form is great for hot chocolate with whipped cream.  There’s lots of room to top it off. Also good for a latte. I want to play around with this. Taller form, lower handle placement.

group 3:

top left: This is my least favorite of one of my new favorite forms. The lines are too stifled.  I prefer the curvier ones. But didn’t know until I played the form in both directions.

top right: This is a form that I always have a hard time with handle placement. I have a mug from another potter that gets it perfectly. But I can’t do it. I’ll always try, and maybe someday I’ll get there. I love drinking peppermint tea in the winter out of a full mug like this.

bottom left: I love the elegant flow of these curves. The taller form keeps the hot liquid hot too. And the curves feel good to hold.

bottom right: Another one of my favorite new forms. I’m excited to do some simple decorating on this form. The band is just calling for some attention.

group 4:

top left: This is a pretty large, wide mug. Maybe good for soup?

top right: This form is getting a little closer to what I want. I love the fluidity of the form. But I want the proportions to be a little different.

bottom left: This form is working a little better for me than the previous iteration. But still isn’t quite gelling. Something to push a bit more.

bottom right: I love the looseness of this form- both when I was throwing it, and the finished product. It has that night balance between a nice strong form and an ease of form.

group 5:

top left: This is similar to one in the previous group, but I tried to play around with having a stronger line and it doesn’t quite work. Next time I think I’ll make the top of the form a bit taller.

top right: I like the curves of this form with the break in the form at the top. I also like that that break gives me a nice place to attach a handle.

bottom left: Another version of one of my new favorites. Something that doesn’t come through in these photos is scale. Some of these similar forms are quite different in size.

bottom right: A taller diner style cup. But this one is quite large. Great for someone with big hands. The very linear lines of the form work well with most of my decoration. A big blank canvas.

group 6:

top left: This is my favorite one of this kind of form. The proportions and fluidity are just right. This is a very generous size cup.

top right: This gets the mix of the softer curves with the stronger angle/line break in the form. Will definitely explore this form more.

bottom left: This is a form I haven’t played with before. I was thinking about those stacking mugs. I didn’t think about making them actually stack, but maybe I will.

bottom right: Again, this cup is a different scale from the previous one. It’s a bit smaller. More “standard” mug size.

group 7:

top left: The curvy mug with a straighter top.

top right: Diner mug with more of a waist. I like that it give you extra room for your knuckles without having the handle loop out too far.

bottom left: I really like the strength of this form. I am mug, hear me roar.

bottom right: This is a variation of one of my first mug forms. I like playing with the proportions of the top and bottom. A slight change makes a major difference.

group 8:

top left: The curvy tea bowl hybrid with a straighter top. I like the swelling of the bottom part of the form, and the restrained upper part.

top right: I wanted to push the idea of the indented band around the cup, but it didn’t work. Often times, creating a whole new form with a very specific idea leads to an overworked piece. But sometimes that’s just where you have to start.

bottom left: Similar to earlier ones, but with a straighter bottom. Prefer the curves.

bottom right: This is another new form that I want to play around with. Nice and stable and a nice break in the form that can be a nice inspiration for decorating this piece.

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There are a couple more parts to this assignment, but that should be enough to get you started for today.

This assignment is something that I do pretty regularly. Not just for mugs, for all different forms. I prefer to sketch in clay rather than paper. By doing so many different forms, it really pushes me to try things that I wouldn’t do otherwise. When you start getting to number 10, you’ll really have to start creating new forms and pushing your standard ones.  If you do this in the next 2 weeks- take a photo of your grouping and email it to me: emily at emily murphy . com. Maybe line them up and take a photo of them in a row. It’ll be easier for me to post than to have to edit individual photos.

Have fun!
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If you’re a Facebook user, become a Fan on the Emily Murphy Pottery Fan Page. I post there almost daily- links, updates, photos, and questions. It’s been a really fun way to get to know you guys and some great information and advice is shared and debated on there.

Pretty coffee stains

Take a look at these cool pieces by Bethan Laura Wood that evolve with use.

coffee-stain-1acoffee-stain-1b

coffee-stain-2acoffee-stain-2b
About these pieces:

Stain is a set of a teacups designed to improve through use. This project examines the assumption that use is damaging to a product (For example, scratches on an iPod).

The interior surface of the cup is treated so as to stain more in predetermined places. The more the cups are used, the more the pattern is revealed. Over time they will build up an individual pattern dependent on the users personal way of drinking tea.

I have a soft spot for coffee stained mugs.  I don’t have any cups that have stains as fancy as these, but my favorite pieces definitely are marked from years of use.

People tend to have very strong opinions on the interior glazing of mugs. I have customers who come in wanting dark glazed interiors so there is no chance of staining. And others who want a light interior so they can see how steeped their tea is.  I make some of each depending on the design of the piece. My personal preference is a lighter glaze so I can see how much milk I’ve added to my morning coffee.  What’s your?

Dinnerware, a platter, wall vases and a whole bunch of cups

As promised, here are some photos of some recent work. I got them out of the kiln right before our July road trip. And had the photographed this week by my photographer, Guy Nicol.

This is some new dinnerware that I’ve been designing:

And this is part of my newest platter series:

I’m really excited for these new wall vases.
These pieces are sort of a hybrid between my oval vases and the wall pieces.
And this is a new surface that you’re going to start seeing on more of my pieces.
I’m really excited for a floral designer to go to town with them! Unfortunately, my favorite designer, Amy Lemaire, has moved away! Amy has done all the arrangements over the past 4 years. You can see some of her past work here

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been in a cup making groove.
I really love the curve & tension in these handles.


You might remember these masked mugs from an earlier post.
The curve of this mug makes me want to fill it with hot cocoa and cup it in my hands on a cold autumn night. That’s not going to happen for a while.
And here are the peace cups that you might remember from a previous post too.
hope. peace. change.

Masked Mugs

I’m getting ready for a soda firing next week…. and that means that the big pieces are drying and I’m focusing on the smaller pieces, like mugs that will dry more quickly. So many mugs…
I use masking tape on a lot of my work to mask out slip areas. Each side of the mug is different from the opposite side, and all the mugs are different from one another. You can see the mess of masking tape that is sticking to my table after I’ve finished up with a baker’s dozen of mugs. (A mess… but a satisfying mess.) I was excited to find masking tape in about 6 different widths last week. Oh the possibilities!

I’ll post pictures of the finished mugs after next week’s firing! Hopefully there will be a bunch of goodies to show you (and maybe finally some pots will be up on my Etsy page!).

Cruets, tiny bottles and mugs.

I have been busy making pots in my studio and I wanted to share a bit of what I’ve been up to. I’ve been really pushing myself lately on new forms, new clays and new surface treatments. I’m really excited about the new pieces. I love this part of the process. I put my energy into designing, problem solving, trying to have the new work make sense in the presence of the other pieces. (and having many failures on the way to the successes).
To balance out these time intense pieces (and often less than stellar success rates), I’ve been making a lot of smaller pieces: cruets, tiny bottles and tons of mugs. I can’t believe how many mugs I’ve been making lately! The smaller pieces are also tests of clay bodies and surface treatments.

Here are some pieces that are fresh out of the soda kiln:

 

A duo of cruets with a nice squeeze that fits perfectly into your hands. 

 

A grouping of tiny bottles. I love making tiny little bottles and vases.
The tallest one is about 3″ tall. 

 

A duo of mugs with a nice thick slip applied and a highlight of glaze. Lined with a shino.
Spring always makes me crave color and I find it actively finding it’s way into and onto my pots this time of the year. I love the curves of these mugs. The curves are perfect for cupping your hands around after your coffee, tea or cocoa has cooled a bit. 
These mugs were made with a curly wire and then dipped in slip to soften the edges. They are also lined with shino and highlighted with a sprayed glaze on the outside. 

 

These my mid-western mugs. I always want to attach the word “mid-western” to any of my pieces that have straight, clean lines. Pieces that are simple and approachable. But that is my perspective as a native New Englander who has been a mid-westerner for the last 13 years. 

I have yet to fire the larger pieces, but when they are finished I’ll share them with you :)

On a totally different topic, Ron Philbeck has an incredible story on his blog that you really should read!

I know that I have been a somewhat absent blogger lately :) But there is much more to come soon. Things have been in progress, but not published. (Including some pictures from a recent trip to Minnesota where I got to meet Ron in person!)

“Soda Fired” Mug

This is the sort of mug that I think of when I think about what a soda fired mug is. Warm, rich coloration from the flashing. Orange peel texture built up on the high points.

This is also a soda fired mug:

John Norris has come up with this hilarious idea. It’s a standard, industrial produced mug with the image of soda firing wrapped around it. It’s the “perfect” soda mug.

I enjoy the cleverness of this, but it also helps remind me what I’m doing making handmade pots in a world of industrial pots. Making something that is beautiful in surface and form; designing a form that is not only visually pleasing, but ergonomic. And perhaps most importantly, making a human connection between the maker and the user.

I came upon this essay, “Potters, the Values of Craftsman, and Living True to Self” by Nathaniel Pearlman on his blog: Political Mammal, and I encourage you to read it. It puts into words another reason why potters make.

Correct or intended usage.

A couple of years ago I was at the Cambridge Pottery Festival in Cambridge, Wisconsin (outside of Madison) visiting my potter friend, Jordan Taylor, who was, at the time, apprenticing with Mark Skudlarek. The festival is an all clay art fair as well as the Pottery Olympics. I was in a bit of heaven for the weekend. I bought a couple of pots from different potters selling their wares. One of the pieces was a simple little temoku bowl with a triangulated rim and rutile brushstrokes on the interior. When I brought it up to the checkout area of the booth, the wife of the maker was tending the sales. Even though I had already decided on my purchase, she began to inform me of the bowl’s many uses. “It’s perfect for ice cream…just the right size for a snack of yogurt…measure out and set aside ingredients while cooking…” I didn’t really say anything at the time – like “I think I can figure it out,” but the whole idea of being told what a bowl was for seemed a little ridiculous. It’s a moment that often comes back to me. I have probably used it for all it’s suggested uses – but I could have figured them out all on my own. I don’t blame her for offering up the list of suggestions, I often get the question “what’s this for” when I sell my pots at a fair or out of my studio. To me, as a potter, it always seems obvious to me. When I think it maybe not as obvious, I try to use a prop of some sort. Probably the most common pot that has it’s function questioned are my wall vases.

I try to display at least one of them with dried flowers in them, but I guess some people just have a hard time imagining it. Sometimes they want more of an answer of dried or fresh flowers, so I go into stories of people using them to hold real live plants, toothbrushes, or kitchen utensils (depending on the size) or how they’re great for your deck (Chicagoans treasure their decks). But as a rule I don’t offer up this information unless it’s asked. I do understand that the more unusual objects might be a little bit hard to figure out – like the wall vases, oil lamps, butter dishes – but I often get asked the “what’s it for” question for the most mundane pots like little sauce bowls, an oversized mug, or even a teapot. I happily answer the customer’s questions, but I just wonder where people’s imagination and logic have gone. I might think about a really specific use when I’m making things – like a shallow bowl-plate that is just perfect for a fresh salad – but I don’t want to corner my pots into one specific use. I want people to take them home and discover new functions and incorporate them even further into their lives. It wouldn’t have really occured to me to put kitchen utensils in a wall vase, but why not? I think it’s a great idea.

We live in a cluttered world of things that all have a single purpose (and usually aren’t that nice to look at). Think about all the small kitchen appliances that clutter our countertops: rice cookers, bread makers, vegetable steamers, waffle irons, pitzzelle makers. People seem to want to be told what to do. Along with the above mentioned appliances, hair dryers and other electric items all come with very important instruction manuals that tell us things like: “do not operate while in the bathtub or while asleep.” I suppose it’s a combination of our litigious society and, again, the lack of imagination and logic. I came upon this legal notice for the usage of mugs. I think it’s pretty hillarious, but I hope that it never actually comes to this.

Useful coffee stains

These clever cups have foot rings in different shapes (thinking outside of the circle), so when you accidentally leave your dirty cup on the nice white linen, you’re just making it more beautiful.
Stamp Cups
As someone who is trying to make it in the world as a potter, I try to make nice pots and be confident that that will sell them. Sometimes I try to figure out some sort of clever quirk that might push someone over the edge to actually buy a piece- a nice detail that shows that I paid attention – something to show that it was handmade. This stamp cup idea is definitely not an innovation that I have thought about before, and I don’t actually think that I would make something with this idea…. but at least I can appreciate the cleverness.