Everybody does things a little differently when it comes to making ceramic monster mugs, I think its about time we explained a bit about just how and why we do it at Handmade Curiosities.
First a little overview for anyone who may not know how the sausage gets made with regard to ceramics
There are essentially 2 ways to make a monster mug: direct sculpting and slip casting.
Directly sculpting is just what you would think it is make a pot, usually on the potters wheel, then smoosh and or stick clay onto it until you have a sculpted pot. This is how most traditional face jugs, and my earliest peices were made. With this method you get a completely one of a kind piece as fast as you can make it.
The other common method is called slip casting. Put most simply this method involves pouring liquid clay called slip into a plaster mold to create a more or less exact copy in clay of your sculpture. Most tiki mugs and our current pieces are made this way. This method is more complex and slower generally, but you can make many copies of your sculpted pot.
So why did we choose to switch from direct sculpting to slip casting?
Making lots of a thing that you worked hard on (and you want to sell) may seem like the obvious reason, and for alot of makers that would be reason enough. We here at handmade curiosities like the ability to make multiples, but what really sold us on slipcasting was what it allows us to do. Slipcasting makes it more practical to make very complex and detailed items.
With direct sculpture the crazy things we make tend to Crack as they dry because they have thick and thin areas that want to dry (and shrink) at different rates, slipcasting fixes this problem. Slipcasting also makes a nice light uniformly thick ceramic cast, direct sculpted pieces tend to be heavy some of our larger mugs weighed over a pound with nothing in them before the switch.
Slipcasting lets us use the best materials for every part of the process. We can sculpt it whatever clay we like, we use monsterclay by monsermakers. When we are finished with the sculpting phase we can make our mugs out of fine bodied cone 6 porcelain that feels and looks beautiful fired, but would be really awkward to sculpt it.
Slipcasting makes underglaze painting better too
Having multiple peices means we can have different versions and wild paint jobs that just wouldn’t be practical to do with directly sculpted mugs. It also means being able to do alot more painting alot more frequently, more time more practice means better results.
Lastly making more than one product from a sculpture means it is practical to spend longer making our sculptures. It’s just business without slipcasting we either have to sculpt very fast or charge a whole lot.