At the end of last week I picked 8 of my favourites from the 50 cups I had churned out. These where then whittled down to 5, or was it 4… And I worked up each shape some more. Here’s the results. i’ve also been experimenting with handle shapes as you can see.

This one was quite tricky to judge – and to make with the widths of the top and bottom varying. I like the ratio of the central one best – they are the same width. No 2 also turned out quite cute with its narrow top and little loopy handle.

The cooling towers I de-selected as they are just too familiar, tho there is something quite pleasing about the ones with relatively narrower tops.

Experiments with foot-rings – also rather over-familiar.

I tried out these folded handles too. Saw one on a jug in the Potteries Museum and really liked it, decided I was going to use them and went all out. Seeing them here I am not at all sure, they just seem to be trying too hard. the one on no 4 above with the upward slanting top is ok, but a bit much for an ordinary size mug. Maybe this is best saved for jugs after all.

These are the wacky-handle collection. Dont like the spirally one at all. The twisted strips I am surprised to like quite a lot, but will need to fire and test to see how they feel twisting one way or t’other. The last is a concession partly to the tiny size of this mug body and also to the fact that I never actually use mug handles when I’m drinking. This one has lugs to rest on the top of thumb and finger as the mug is cradled – again will need testing for practicality…

Start of the two flared shapes here – they got a bit mixed up as I struggled to get the proportions right for the shape in the middle. The ordinary handle on the right I had planned to avoid but i think actually tradition might have a point, it works pretty well!

No 1 is the wider flared shape, originally with a ridge around i’s waist, the ridges seem to be quite hard to throw so experiementing with other forms of ornamentation. No 2 is the narrower.

One of the many questions I have been pondering is handed-ness. For these plain shapes it doesnt really matter, but as soon as you apply some decoration the question arises of where to put it. Some older mugs have the decoration opposite the handle, but usually it’s one side or the other. My inclination as a left-hander is to have the handle on the left and the decoration facing in to the person holding it, but for a righty this would mean the decoration was pointing out… Does it matter? Answers on a postcard please?!

More variations on the two flared shapes, ornament and handle. Some people use bands of lines to anchor the joining of handles, on no 3 I was experimenting with working around the lines, makes the handle a bit over sized in this form.

So here’s another, which managed to acquire a ridge, but with the handle smaller and above the line.

After two weeks solid of mugs I am a bit bored of them, and keen to do something differently shaped next, but I will come back to them and choose the best at some point. Which ones (if any) would you pick?

6 thoughts on “Refinement and proportion

  1. As a habitual tea drinker I like a big mug with a comfortable handle. I am attracted to row 6 No 2 even though the handle looks a bit small.
    I have also faced the problem of where to put the decoration, I decided on decoration facing away from the drinker with a smaller version of the same facing the drinker, if you understand me. I was using transfers (my own) so I suppose it was easy for me to do.
    I am also a potter and about 6 months ahead of you in setting up my studio so I have enjoyed reading about your systematic approach. I am also jealous of your Shimpo, I am on the look out too.
    Good Luck!

  2. Thanks Debbie. I like that one too – I’ll try out the handle for you once it’s fired! Cheers also for the two-sided tip.

    I’d be interested to hear more about your journey, do you have a blog or something somewhere?

    • Hi,

      I did start a blog but haven’t got too far with it. I must get back to posting but I need time! Where does it go? I am on FB – Debbie Barber Ceramics if you’re interested.
      One thing I have decided as a new maker is that I’m not going to get swept up and distracted by what everyone else is doing. I found myself getting quite anxious that I was not doing this or that, going to this craft fair or applying to that gallery. In the end I thought that my craft suffered because of it. I want to be a maker and I want to make really good things and get the satisfaction of making the perfect pot (or as near as dammit on the day), I don’t want to get into mass production. I am happy to grow slowly and not to force the pace. I don’t know how you feel about this? Anyway just my thoughts!
      Hope it’s going well, 🙂

  3. Pingback: Refinement and proportion | Mud on Fire

  4. After we’ve just had a conversation about the ‘right’ cup for tea/coffee I can instantly see what really works for me: I love what I believe you call the ‘twisted’ handle and the wide rather plain mug – so row 7 the mug on the right is my top fav and I look forward to being able to purchase it!!

  5. Hello thanks for linking up and an honest post. I did a post call we all have to start some where; and i still think that you must always remember where you came from (so you know how to get back ;-0) so when something is not going right, tomorrow is another day too start again. Hang in there and keep looking at other peoples work!

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