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rayaldridge

Turned Foot Rings On Mugs; Elegance Or Affectation?

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I used to fall into the affectation camp.  Back in the day, if I could sell a mug for 6 bucks, I was pretty happy.  I can throw pretty fast, and I'd throw the mug, undercut the foot slightly with a wooden knife, wire it off, and it was done, except for the handle.  I'd wipe the edge with a sponge, and leave the wire marks.  High volume was the key to making my ration of macaroni and cheese.

 

But recently I got into throwing yunomis-- handle-less cups for tea and wine  Most of the great potters whose yunomis I looked at used turned footrings, even if some of them were what I would call a little crude.  I really liked the way these cups looked.  I've always felt that a nicely turned footring was a prerequisite for an elegant bowl, but it never occurred to me before that they would work well with mugs.  I tended to think stability was the big thing with mugs, so the wider the base, the better.

 

In any case, I started looking at the yunomis I was throwing, and realized that some of the forms would work pretty well for mugs, too, with the addition of a handle. 

 

Lately I've been dividing my drinking vessel production into mugs and yunomis, both with turned foot rings.  I really like them.  Am I wrong to think that I have improved my forms? (I know, I know... each potter has to decide if a particular form demands a foot ring, but I apparently operate on a much more concrete form of esthetic judgement.)

 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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Nice looking mugs. Aesthetically, I like a turned foot. Properly sized, it provides all the stability a mug needs. A rough-cut foot is appropriate for a rough form; a more refined form needs a refined, turned foot. For some forms, a flat-bottomed foot works. For those, I look to make sure the bottom is cleaned up, no sharp edges, free of kiln wash "kling-ons".

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I feel your foot is to narrow and the handle is to small but these are all  choices we each make so who cares what I think?

As long as the mug is stable and you can feel comfortable holding it thats what matters most.

Mark

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I turn a foot ring into almost every pot. I think it shows a level of care in the maker. A couple of forms that I make don't allow for it because I simply cannot turn them over to trim, but most do. I do not necessarily define a raised foot on the outside of the pot, but I do trim a foot ring on the bottom.

 

Rayaldridge, I agree with Mark that the foot on your mug is a little small. It feels like it would be tippy. In reality it is probably not, but it's all about proportions and perceptions. I think the handle is just fine, though. On a small mug you only need to get one or two fingers in it. I think a larger handle would overwhelm the form, and there's just not room for a larger handle without it being a big loopy thing.

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I trim a foot ring whenever i can.  It adds a finished look and lightens the look of most pieces to have a small break from the ground.

 

Sometimes a clay body forbids it, though.  I"m working with an earthenware right now that likes to sag a bit when fired to close to vitrification.  Porcelains I've worked with have had this problem too.  There's a reason some pottery traditions don't have ornate pedestal feet on their wares.

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I confess to being obsessed with turned/trimmed feet on mugs...and will remain so until I can find a support group :rolleyes: .  I simply like the idea of a little surprise, extra care, and detail that makes the piece mine.
clay_signature_sm.jpg

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Paul, you're okay... your turned mugs have big feet.

 

I have to admit that I thought the same as Mark when I got the first batch of these out of the kiln.  I worried they might be pretty tippy too, but in actual use, they don't seem to be noticeably tippier than the mugs I've made with broad feet.  An unexpected virtue was pointed out by my wife.  She noticed almost instantly that these mugs with little feet are more pleasant to hold, since they fit more comfortably into the hollow of one's hand.  The curvature at the bottom, and the insulative effect of the deep footring contribute to this, she says.

 

I suppose if you mostly drink your coffee at a desk, you might be better off with a wide foot, so you'd be less likely to knock your cup over and fry your keyboard.

 

My rule for handles is small ones for small mugs, bigger ones for bigger mugs.  It seems easier to control a small cup if the handle isn't big and loopy, though maybe some folks would prefer that kind of handle as an esthetic choice.  Function comes first for me, in most ways.

 

Perception might well be a problem for selling these mugs.  I think when people think "handmade clay mugs" they think of something a bit rough and ready.  I well remember back in the 70s and 80s when people would come up to me at shows, and tell me my pots couldn't possibly be stoneware, because everyone knew that stoneware has only matte glazes. 

 

I can see why some folks might be put off by small turned feet, even if they wouldn't give it a second thought when using fine china teacups.  They just don't expect to see that sort of thing on thrown mugs.

 

I often end up deferring to the Japanese when it comes to function, as handmade domestic pots are still such a vital part of their culture.  Yunomi with small feet would presumably be as vulnerable to tipping over as mugs, but they still make them that way, for the most part.  Maybe they have a more contemplative approach to tea drinking than most Americans, and so they appreciate the feel of the cup done in this manner more than many of us would.

 

Anyway, thanks for the comments.  Very interesting!

 

Here's a bigger mug with a bigger handle:

 

 

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What a great video.  Thanks much for posting that.

 

It reaffirms the notion I've always had that one of the most important aspects of making anything you might want to call art is the intensity of observation that the artist brings to it.

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I don't like washing bare clay on domestic ware whether it is for serving or cooking. So I cut foot rings. They look better and allow most of the base to be glazed. The only disadvantage of the foot ring is its tendency to collect grotty water in the dishwasher. I cut V shaped chinks in the foot ring, but that spoils the look. What I would like is the foot ring on a plastic mug I own. It has a foot ring of tiny half domes, but I can't think of any way to apply them efficiently to thrown cups. Any ideas?

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My point on the mug was it really does not matter what others think- its how it works. I cannot pick it up -so the handle may work well or not-without holding  it one is at a loss and I should have said to thin looking in the middle but I make 1 and two finger mugs as well .As far as tippy I'm also at a loss as I cannot tell without being there.

I'm in the busisness of selling thousands of mugs  a year so I want them stable and to please a large market base so I make all sizes and that includes handles sizes as well. I no longer make them just for my asthetic. I make them to be trouble free and work so well they want more and come back to buy more. I tend to make them as stable as possible.You should buy a mug the feel in your hand not other asthetics I feel.

I unloaded two kilns today that had at least 150 plus mugs total in them-I never count them so I'm at a loss on the number it may be 250 or  200?I have only priced about 1/3 of them and will finish in am.

I love a trimmed foot but that does not fit into my production runs anymore.

I used to trim a foot on everything but I got very serious about making a good living long ago and that means some forms are not footed. Most still are just not mugs. My baby bowls are still footed which are miniature.

As you said it depends on esthetic judgement and yours is right for you. One thing is if you ask for my thoughts I will always be truefull but its only an opinion not necessarily the right one .

Mark

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I find unfooted pots seem unfinished to me. I'll join the support group with Paul. I like to take my design all the way down in the foot for something unexpected. I am not a production potter and would never want to be. I'd rather make less, and charge a little more so I can finish them to my satisfaction. I find I'm always turning pots over to see how the bottoms are finisheD, but I'm sure not everyone pays that much attention to them as long as they work.

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For me, the foot or not to foot question is a matter of design. I look at a pot form, and decide if it should have a foot or not. Many times this is a matter of ease of reach, presentation, lift to the form, or some other quirk  I notice in the form. Lately though, I have been doing mugs with larger base areas, tapering to a narrower top that seem to have mass in the lower 2/3 of the pot. Very deceiving, as it only means greater volume. These pieces I really don't want to add the foot to, so I finish it well, and do design the bottom a little more.

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Mark, I very much appreciate your honest opinion.  I have to admit that back in the days when I was a production potter, it never even occurred to me to turn a foot ring on a mug-- just didn't see how I could afford to sell a mug with that much work in it, so I understand where you're coming from.  In fact, I have to admit that it never crossed my mind until very recently.  As I said, I've been making yunomis with turned feet recently, and then a few weeks back, I spent a night visiting with an old friend, Stanley Hurst.  (NCECA goers probably know Stanley-- he's Mecca Pottery Tools and was getting ready to go to Providence when I was at his house.)  Stanley has quite an extensive mug collection.  I was looking at them and came across a couple footed ones, which I liked a lot. I liked the way they felt in my hand-- not just the hand that held the handle, but the other hand that held the base.  Anyway, ideas grow sometimes from many roots, and I suppose I just didn't get this one until a time when it was possible for me to put it into reality.

 

Pete Pinnell in that video said a lot of interesting things, and he mentioned that comfort in use was the standard by which most of us judge a mug.  His view was that there were other factors beyond comfort that mattered, and I agree, but I still think that comfort should come first and all others must follow and not detract from that comfort.  The mug I posted first has a two-finger handle, but even a one-finger handle can work well, I think.  Here's an example of a one-finger mug:

 

 

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I don't like washing bare clay on domestic ware whether it is for serving or cooking. So I cut foot rings. They look better and allow most of the base to be glazed. The only disadvantage of the foot ring is its tendency to collect grotty water in the dishwasher. I cut V shaped chinks in the foot ring, but that spoils the look. What I would like is the foot ring on a plastic mug I own. It has a foot ring of tiny half domes, but I can't think of any way to apply them efficiently to thrown cups. Any ideas?

 

Photo?????

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Recently I like to throw mugs off the hump but leave a good 2-3 inch of solid clay at the bottom to make a chunky foot, as wide as I can. I find myself trying to weight mugs a little heavy on the bottom too as when I started lots of my stuff tipped over with the small feet. It also feels much more grounded in the hand. Nothing overweight but a slight thickness.

 

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I also like making mugs without a foot. For me it is a design decision, they both feel different and have a different drinking experience.

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Okay so I'm a beginner. But I can already tell you, if there's a support group I might as well join now. I started learning to throw in October and sometimes I just don't leave enough clay on the bottom for a foot. But already 80% of the mugs and bowls I make have a foot. I totally get where this would not work in production, though. Right now the time is less important to me than the learning experience. 

 

I like that the footed mugs have a little color and I personally like to add a contrasting color of glaze to the bottom. Please note: I am not a production potter, my best session yet was 12 mugs and my fingers were sore the next day! When I can't sell them for more than $15 I may change my tune about footed mugs! ;) 

 

I'm in the process of glazing my very first kiln load of wheel-thrown mugs and bowls so I don't have anything finished. But I've attached a photo of two Moroccan Sand footed cups right after I attached the handles. 

 

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Okay so I'm a beginner. But I can already tell you, if there's a support group I might as well join now. I started learning to throw in October and sometimes I just don't leave enough clay on the bottom for a foot. But already 80% of the mugs and bowls I make have a foot. I totally get where this would not work in production, though. Right now the time is less important to me than the learning experience. 

 

I like that the footed mugs have a little color and I personally like to add a contrasting color of glaze to the bottom. Please note: I am not a production potter, my best session yet was 12 mugs and my fingers were sore the next day! When I can't sell them for more than $15 I may change my tune about footed mugs! ;)

 

I'm in the process of glazing my very first kiln load of wheel-thrown mugs and bowls so I don't have anything finished. But I've attached a photo of two Moroccan Sand footed cups right after I attached the handles. 

 

Nice forms, and excellent progress in a very short time. If I may offer some advice- leaving that ring in the center just adds unnecessary weight and a reason for 'S' cracks. Trim it out and the mug will have better balance. Also round of the inner and outer edge of the foot ring so it doesn't scratch the table.

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I like both.  I used to put a foot ring on everything, but I started trying to produce a "product line"  and realized as mark had said, that If I am going to make a bread and butter line, I want it to be as simple as possible so I can spend my NON bread and butter time on making good art.  My goal is to make several basic items to help pay bills, and have that be stuff that can be made quickly so I can actually explore other forms and sculpt etc.  I would rather make production pots than work for Mc Donalds production line if you know what I mean. I am not nearly a production potter yet. My goal is not to make cute stamped cups, my goal is to make art with clay. So wired off beer steins it is. ;) 

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Thank you for the compliment! I'm finally starting to really see my progress, which is so encouraging ... I had nothing to keep for a long time so it was easy to feel that I had made no progress. Now I can literally line my successes up in a row and see the improvement. Pure joy.

 

Also, I very much appreciate any advice from experienced potters like yourself. I have only one potter friend (and I've gotten some very valuable tips from her), but I had no idea this community existed and I'm so excited to read all these posts on different topics and hear from people at all levels and styles. Everyone is so generous with advice and information on here. 

 

I do think my mugs tend to be a bit bottom heavy ... I'm afraid of trimming through the bottom so I think I'm not taking enough off. I plan to test out all the different styles of mug and handles as soon as they're glazed so I know what I want to keep making and what I want to change. I'll get there. :D

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Sorry, Rebekah, that was in response to Neil. 

Probably when this becomes about bread and butter for me I'll be ditching the foot myself. I feel as strongly as you do about the McDonald's production line! :) 

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I don't like washing bare clay on domestic ware whether it is for serving or cooking. So I cut foot rings. They look better and allow most of the base to be glazed. The only disadvantage of the foot ring is its tendency to collect grotty water in the dishwasher. I cut V shaped chinks in the foot ring, but that spoils the look. What I would like is the foot ring on a plastic mug I own. It has a foot ring of tiny half domes, but I can't think of any way to apply them efficiently to thrown cups. Any ideas?

 

I've seen people make mugs with little "feet". They can be really awesome but of course it's another thing to attach so I would not call it efficient. Perhaps you could throw with extra clay left at the bottom, trim an oversized foot and then cut away all but a few points? Here is an example of a beautifully made mug with feet. 

http://store.brothers-handmade.com/Green-Iron-Red-Textured-Footed-Mug-Handmade-Pottery-EACH-ONE-UNIQUE.html

 

Neil: That golden mug you shared last is just wonderful in every way. 

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