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Making a Puzzle Mug

Unless held to the mouth in exactly the right way, a puzzle mug would spill beer down the drinkers shirt. This was a big hit with the tavern crowd.

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by Delia Robinson
To illustrate the instructions for a Puzzle mug, Vermont potter Jennifer Boyer made a stripped down and slightly exaggerated version so the mechanics are more easily revealed.

The mug is thrown and the rim is split, creating a Y.
The two top edges are brought up and closed together, forming a hollow tube running around the rim of the mug.

Puzzle Mug step 1 Puzzle Mug step 2

After the mug is leather hard, trim the bottom, if needed.
Cut a hole in the tubular rim of the mug where you plan to attach the handle.

Puzzle Mug step 2

Set the mug aside while you prepare the handle.

Puzzle Mug step 3

Using the same method as you did above to make the hollow rim, make the hollow handle, which will serve as a drinking straw.
It is possible to pull a hollow handle by placing a flexible tube or cord in the center of the clay, leaving it there throughout the shaping of the handle, and removing it when it is time to attach the handle to the cup.
This is really tricky, and that is why a thrown hollow handle is recommended.

Puzzle Mug step 4

To throw a hollow handle, open a bottomless pot, pushing all the clay out into a ring.
Open the ring creating a circular form with a U shape.
Pull up the sides and close them, forming a hollow doughnut of clay.

Puzzle Mug step 5

Set it aside until it is firm enough to handle without collapsing.
When firm, cut it so it looks like a handle shape.

Puzzle Mug step 6

Align the handle to the cup so the top corresponds with the hole in the tube at the cup rim.
Cut a hole through the cup wall at bottom of the handle.
The holes should be the same in size and placement to the ends of the hollow handle.
The handle will be attached over these holes after the next steps are completed.

Puzzle Mug step 7

Set the handle aside and pick up the mug again.
An inch or so under the lip of the mug, below the tube and beneath the spot where the mouth would be placed when taking a drink, cut a little pattern of holes or a curlyque design.
Do the same on the cup back.
In the old mugs this was often very fancy and sometimes continued around the outside of the cup.
The idea is to cause the drinker, when lifting the cup to the mouth in the usual way, to pour the beverage down his shirt front.

Puzzle Mug step 8

Next, three or four more holes are punched through the outer wall of the rim tube.
In deciding how to place these holes, consider that one will be used to drink through, but the others will need to be covered with fingers.
The only way to drink is to cover the extra holes in the rim.
While you are working be careful so clay pieces don't fall into the tunnels, if it does, blow it out.
Puff air through the openings to make sure the tunnels have remained open, and then attach the handle.

Puzzle Mug step 9

You now have a hollow tube running from the bottom interior of the mug, up the inside of the handle and around the inside of the rim.
This is the path the fluid will follow when the cup is drank from.

Puzzle Mug step 10

Decoration should be fancy to steer the eye away from the trick.
Before glazing, plug all openings into the tubes with wax.
Immediately after dipping the mug in glaze, blow gently on the dribble holes to clear them of glaze.
Reopen the other openings by removing the wax and clearing away any glaze that might obstruct them.
A triple whammy puzzle mug has a frog in the bottom of the cup, a frog climbing the up the inside, or a frog hanging off the handle.

Frog 2 Puzzle Mug Frog Puzzle Mug

The rainbow of Gods promises is always above the trials and storms of life

Story of the Puzzle Mug

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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