How we make our Handcrafted Ceramic Mugs
How will your own ceramic mug be made? Learn how Emerson Creek Pottery makes
its beautiful handcrafted ceramic mugs!
Our ceramic mugs start in the mind of their beholders. Using clay, the cup takes
shape on the potters wheel. A number of pots will be hand thrown, dried and
fired in order to choose the most pleasing design.
The tool and die process starts with a finished cup that has been selected.
Since clay shrinks when it is dried and fired, a new cup must be hand thrown a
carefully calculated amount larger to compensate for this shrinkage. This
becomes the model, which will be cast in plaster.
Individual molds are cast in plaster. They will be carefully dried and then
placed on the casting bench.
Casting. Liquid clay called slip is poured into each mold. As the plaster mold
absorbs water, the wall of the cup is formed. When the wall thickness is correct
the remaining slip is poured out and recycled back into the slip tank. The time
the slip must remain in the mold varies according to the slip, how wet the mold
is, and even the weather. After several hours the cup is dry enough to be
removed from the mold without warping it.
After the cup has dried the seams are cleaned with a knife and smoothed with a
The coffee mug is thoroughly dried and then dipped in a clear glaze.
Now comes the decorating. Each piece we make is individually hand painted using
special pigments. A Japanese Sumi brush is used to do the painting. Although the
decorators strive to make each cup the same, there are always variations as each
piece is an individual work of art.
Next the mug is loaded in our gas-fired kiln. It will be fired to about 2200
degrees Fahrenheit over an eight-hour period.
The next day after cooling the kiln is unloaded. Notice how the colors brighten
and change and the glaze is now glossy. The white porcelain type clay is now
vitrified which makes it hard and durable.
Final quality control. Each piece us carefully inspected for flaws. Cracked
pieces are discarded and seconds are kept for sale in our Log Cabin Outlet store
here on the premises. There are always variations since each piece is handmade
throughout the process; this is what makes each piece a unique work of functional