Is it just me or does coffee taste better when it comes in a cute mug? Of course, don’t get me wrong, plain mugs also have their charm! But cups and mugs that come with extra details make the whole sipping experience better for some reason. That’s why you can never go wrong with gifting your friends and loved ones a mug! And we’ve got a feeling that these animal mugs by self-taught ceramicist Brooke Knippa will make anyone go ‘aww!’. Her handmade cups feature adorable animals burrowed inside a nook on the front.
Brooke Knippa is the founder of AP Curiosities Art Studio. She was originally from Colorado, but her artistic journey led to her settle down in Bowdoinham, Maine where she churns out the most surprising ceramic goods. All her of charming creations are showcased on AP Curiosities’ website. And it comes as no surprise that her charming animal mugs have become her bestsellers. Offline, admirers of ceramic work can visit her Airstream Gallery. The gallery’s name is taken from the mint condition vintage 1978 Airstream trailer that now house Knippa’s vases, mugs and sculptures. In a statement, Knippa said that:
“The mugs with animals started the same way as most of my ideas do – time in the studio with no ‘plan’. I always have so many ideas swirling around in my head and finding the time to explore them is always a challenge for me!”
Self-taught ceramicist Brooke Knippa makes adorable animal mugs
Since Knippa makes the mugs by hand, the shapes and sizes of her creations vary. Some are big enough to satiate your thirst for coffee and others are dainty. Each mug has distinct decorative patterns. But the most eye-catching detail about Knippa’s cups are the animals curled inside little burrows! All these small details come together to complete the rustic charm of her handmade ceramic mugs. According to Knippa, the creation process of the mugs begins with an idea. She shared:
“First is the idea. I’ll write the animals I’m planning to make (although my plans often get derailed) down on scrap pieces of paper. I weigh out and wedge each piece of clay and make it into a smooth ball. Usually I’ll make 6 to 8 mugs at a time.”
Knippa shared that the overall creation process for every batch of her rustic and charming cups requires a lot of quick and precise work. She detailed that while she makes plans about the animals she’ll feature on her creations, there are still chances of the final outcome turning out differently. Her process is as malleable as the clay that she works with. The entire process takes her two days on average to complete. Read on below to learn about her process:
“Clay work is very dependent on timing – too wet and pieces can get distorted and too dry and pieces will crack. I’ll decide on which animal I want that mug to be and then think about the mug shape. I love to throw, but usually find repetition boring – so making different mug shapes and sizes keeps things interesting for me.”
“Once the mug is thrown, I’ll let it dry just enough so the rim doesn’t lose its shape. I’ll use one hand on the inside to support the clay, and then from the outside gently push in the side. After another drying cycle, I’ll trim the foot, attach a handle and thumb catch, score/decorate the mug, and finally sculpt and insert the animal into the mug nook, and then add any paint/details.”
The entire process can take Knippa two days on average to finish
“After I have made enough pieces to fill a kiln (usually 30+ pieces of work) I will bisque fire to around 1940F. I unload the bisque kiln and wipe each piece to remove any dust and prepare for the glaze. In order to repel glaze from specific areas (usually the foot and the animal sculpture) I carefully apply for a layer of wax.”
“Once the wax has dried I either paint, pour, or dip the piece in the glaze and then load it into another firing – this time up to 2200F. From here the piece is unloaded, the bottom sanded smooth, inspected for any cracks, photographed, measured for size/capacity, listed on my website, sold, and finally shipped!”
Challenges cannot be avoided no matter what you do. Knippa shared that she also goes through her fair share of challenges whenever she’s making a batch of her adorable mugs. And the difficulty of the process actually contributes in how Knippa prices her ceramic creations. She acknowledges that her creations are a bit pricier than the mass-produced mugs available on the market. This is because a lot of the ceramicist’s time, effort and energy go into the creation of every ceramic piece. These factors are basically what drives up the price of Knippa’s creations.
“One of the biggest challenges in crafting mugs is getting everything right – timing the consistency of the clay at various stages, glazing it in a beautiful yet durable glaze, making the handle to feel just right in the hand, all while making it through each stage without a crack or flaw.”
“I often get suggestions and ideas for pieces too, which can be really fun. I had a request for a Sasquatch, which inspired my recent winter Yeti mugs. The moment I thought of these big mythical creatures all I could see were bigfoot prints around the mug.”
“I guess I would have to say my favorite to date has been the Sleeping Fox Mug. It was the very first one in which I incorporated a scene around a whole mug. I didn’t want to take away from the animal, so I didn’t add too much detail for color, just different textures. The bottom portion texture is dappled, like a dappled forest floor. And from there, the trees rise up to meet the top of the mug – the sky, then little yellow stars or fireflies do the horizon. And nestled into the nook, sleeping under a bed of 3 porcelain white lilies, is a little red fox.”
Knippa’s adorable animal mugs are certainly something to behold. They’re sure to become the star piece of anyone’s mug collection. As of writing, Knippa has announced that her entire January 2021 collection has sold out. You’ll have to sign up to her newsletter to receive restock updates for February 2021. We’re definitely fawning over her creations and can’t wait to see more her wonderful creations!