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Mug Club

Partnering with the Dining Services at The University of Montana, ceramic students create mugs to be sold to students, faculty, and anyone who frequents the University Dining Service coffee shops. When a customer chooses to buy a handmade mug, they will receive special discounts such as a 20% off refills in their mug, and, depending on the day of the week, 50 cents off a muffin / bagel, a free added shot, or half priced refills. Besides saving money, mug goers will be supporting the use of homemade objects while promoting a positive environmental impact by reducing the use of throw-away paper cups. Participating shops include the UC Food Court, BizBuzz, La Peak, Recess, Think Tank, and the Cascade Country Store.
Class Presentation PDF


Q: How did you come up with an idea for this project?
A: This idea really came about because I’ve been doing some marketing work with Dining Services and they wanted a program to basically promote their name. Not a lot of people know what Dining services actually do on campus. So we did some research and we found this mug club that another university had started and I thought it would just be a fantastic way to bring the UM Ceramics Department and Dining Service together, as well as get clay out to the community. We made about twenty mugs and handed them out in the UC Gallery. When we first got there we set up a cart and people wouldn’t look at us. They wouldn’t make eye contact with us. So we stood for about five minutes and then we decided we needed to retry this. So anyone who was sitting nearby, we attacked them and asked them if they wanted a free mug. When we started to give them out people got really excited. People started to come to find us. Everyone was really excited about the mugs. By the time we made it around most of the 2nd floor, we had a group of people come up to us. And they were like, “we heard about this mug club thing. Can we get a free mug from you?” So word had already spread around. In each of the cups we had a little flyer and told where they could use these at certain areas on campus. And on the bottom was a little survey they could take. We actually had a person respond five minutes after we handed out the mugs. We were somewhat successful and they answered some questions which we liked. I think this project went pretty successfully and through this we developed a pretty good relationship with Dining Services and the Ceramics Department.

Q: So you handed them out for free?
A: Yeah we did.

Q: But the flyer says buy a mug?
A: So next semester we are actually going to implement this program and we’re going to sell them for $10 to students. We are going to have to figure out how the selling is going to work. Maybe put a table up in the UC.

Q: Is there a way to identify all these mugs in the same way?
A: We forgot to make stamps. Originally we wanted to make a club stamps. There is writing on the bottom of each cup, Mug Club. So the baristas can just turn it over and see.

Mugs For Thought

Mugs for thought is a project to give mugs to the Food for Thought resturant and get people to take notice of their daily routines along with a set of nice looking mugs to drink coffee from.


Q: What was your main idea?
A: mugs for a restaurant called Food for Thought right off campus from Jesse Hall and its somewhere i’ve gone a lot since I was a freshmen. I realized a lot of people would just go in their for coffee and stay in for 20 seconds than leave. So I wanted to make mugs that would stop people from getting in and getting out. I wanted to them to spend time and appreciate their daily routines more
Q: What was your challenges ?
A: When I started this project I only had one hand because of my other broken hand. So 2/3rd of the cups I threw broke.
Q: How did food for thought receive them?
A: Very well, they were happy for free mugs
Q: Did you get a free meal?
A: Yeah I did.
Q: Was there any concern about size since you buy by the OZ?
A: No, They told me none of their cups are the same so different sizes wouldn’t matter
Q: Would you do the same next time?
A: No..I mean yes, I would throw on a bat again but make more cups uniform. I just kept the best ones this time because of my hand. Next time I would make more and just keep all the same ones.

Random Acts of Pottery

This group’s aim is to share ceramics with members of the community who might not be exposed otherwise by anonymously and randomly placing ceramic items around Missoula. After making pieces such as mugs, plates, and bowls, they will attach an uplifting message, joke, eco-friendly facts, or a quote to make the random recipient to ponder and smile. Locations that may be subject to be littered with their works are bus stops, bike paths, the courthouse, benches, the library, hiking trails, parks, etc.
An interesting thought about this project is the action of separation. Often times potters gain a connection and attachment to their work, due to the many hours spent making it. What these ladies are doing is breaking that bond and leaving their work in the open with an unknown future for others to relish and hopefully appreciate.
Kalithin Kenny – Class Presentation PDF
Ashley Block – Class Presentation PDF
Jami Denton – Class Presentation PDF

Kaitlin Kenney:
“My process took a lot longer than expected. I dedicated a lot more time than planned, and explored using black slip inlay, which was a big learning process. I look forward to handing out my mugs though, and imagine who is going to get them. I just want to put a smile on their face.”

Interview: Kaitlin Kenney

Q: What was the purpose of your project?
A: I did random acts too but a little different so I wanted to hand them out to people who looked like they were smiling. You walk past someone and they have a large grin and you don’t know why, but it makes you smile. I etched little quotes into the mug. Like, breathe, go slow and smile. I put a black slip on them but then my glazing sucked which ruined them. Maybe four of them came out so you can read the quotes. I guess it was good learning. Most of them didn’t turn out. I wish I had put much more thought into handing them out. I handed them out very randomly.

Q: So you were walking down the street and handed them out?
A: No, I didn’t end up doing it like that. I ended up handing them out to the people running the Big Brother and Big Sister, and gave them each one. I still have a few to give out.

Q: Would you do it again?
A: I would like to do it again but plan it out a little more. Write something in them, and give them little teabags. It was fun and it was a good learning experience about glazes.

Interview: Ashley Block

Q: What was the purpose of your project?
A: I just wanted to learn how to get the attachment factor and also not care what happens to the pottery. I left my email and our website address in the cups. I got an email so far. The one email I did get was an little old lady. She found it but she didn’t understood why someone would do that and she made her daughter write to me and say how awesome it was that someone would do something nice in this day and age. It was so sweet.

Q: How do you prepare the cups?
A: I wrapped the cups in cellophane. And I wrapped it like a gift. And put a note on there. I handwrote all the notes. I didn’t want to type up a note with a handmade mug. It didn’t make sense to me.

Q: What did the email they say?
A: I’ll read it to you. “So Ashley let me introduce myself. My name is—— and I am the daughter of —— who found your mug. She asked me to write to you. She lives with me in my home. She is 80 years old and she has short term memory. She takes care of my grandchildren and walks them to the bus every day, snow or sunshine. She brought your mug home and asked me to read the note to her. She is very capable of reading. She just didn’t understand. She has seen a lot in her lifetime, very sad as well as very joyous. She could not believe in this day in time, someone would take the time to do an act of kindness. She has given many in 80 years so was, again very excited to see kindness was still out there. I can’t tell you how much it means to a person, no matter how small or big, can bring joy and happiness that will return to you tenfold. The mug is beautiful and just the size she loves. Merry Christmas.”

Q: Do you think you’ll do it again?
A: I’d like to. I liked how it was really fun. I did it with my husband and he drove me around. I had my box of mugs in the back of the car. I’d grab one, wherever we ended up. It took forever to decide where to leave them. It was really exciting.

Q: How did you decide where to leave them?
A: Where it was crowded, or places where I go. I thought about where I’d be if was walking. I was thinking who would get it, and who I wanted to get it. I wanted it to be a shocking half surprise, “Oh, hey. This is cool.”

Interview: Jami Denton

Q: What was the point of your project?
A: I guess I look for things when I’m walking all the time, and it’s just like fi I see something I have to go figure out what it is. I kinda wanted that. Like, “Is this for me? Should I take it? Is it for someone else?” The whole idea was interesting to me, how different people react. So I didn’t leave a note. I only left the web address to add that atmosphere of mystery. “Am I gonna check this out?” And so I guess that implied it was for someone else. I also left tea to signify use, that they meant to use it. Sometimes it was so busy I thought I was gonna get caught leaving it there. I kept thinking someone would say, “Miss you forgot your cup!”

Q: Was it hard to leave them behind?
A: No, it really wasn’t. I was excited. I had a project in art school where I wasn’t going to be left with this object in my life. I got experience making it but didn’t have to keep it. And also making something, giving it away and not knowing what happens to it, was very exciting.

Traveling Mugs

This team will focus on throwing some really great, eye catching mugs and then distribute them to professors of other departments (besides Art) at the University. These professors will replace their plain, throw away “token coffee cup” and replace them with handmade and sustainable mugs for a week. The idea is that since professors are usually the main focus in the class to the students, the students will notice the professor’s super cool mug and inquire about it, therefore spreading the word of the ceramics community. This plan gets ceramics work out of the Art department and into the rest of the University.

Below is the message sent out with every mug
As students we notice everything about our teachers, what they wear, what phrases they use, and what they drink out of. For the art department, teachers are notorious for using their handmade mugs.

The Traveling Mug Project’s goal is to bring handmade works of art into your classroom (as well as your morning cup of joe). We are striving to expand professor and student awareness of handmade works including the production, function, and pride, which goes into every handcrafted mug.

“Everything tastes better out of a handmade mug.”

The Traveling Mug Challenge:
Use this mug in your classroom over the next week. Feel free to discuss The Traveling Mug with your classes. This mug will be picked up Monday and shared with other departments in the coming weeks.

Thank You!
Morgan, Abbi, Kelly and Amanda
UM Ceramics Department

Class Presentation PDF

“I borrowed a traveling mug to enjoy some chai at a recent meeting. What a great idea to raise awareness of the work of the students in the ceramics department. Thank you for the use of the wonderful mug, and for your ingenuity.”
– Kathy White
School of Business Administration

Traveling Mugs – “We had a few setbacks like an unrealistic deadline schedule and a few kiln complications, but it all came together in the end. We have more mugs than we originally planned and the departments are really excited!”


Q: What was the main idea that started this?
A: It was mainly kelly idea to push the mugs into different departments that usually don’t see art that often. we were thinking throughout taking art classes and art history that you always see your teachers carrying their first mug. we noticed it so we wanted to make the other students notice it as well.

Q: What is your goal?
A: So are goal was to bring handmade works into the classroom and expand student and teacher awareness of handmade works, production, function and pride.

Q: How did that go over?
A: In short many people didn’t understand why we were giving or lending mugs out and told us we could sell them. That wasn’t the purpose of the project and we had to explain it a few times. People liked the mugs but since are focus was the business school the attention continued to focus on the sale which once again isn’t are intent We also got a lot of rejection emails for corresponding with departments, most didn’t have time for us and basically said if we wanted to knock on each door we could do it that way. Of course the business building was really nice.

Q: Would you have liked to have started earlier?
A: Yes, timing was a factor in the rejection emails. People have less time near the end of the semester.

University Center Invasion

So often, Art students are stuck in the dark dungeons of their studios, concealed from the common eye. In the case of the ceramics students, we are hidden away in the Art Annex, which is a building not frequented by common students. So this idea brought ceramic students out of the unknown territory and into a populated place: the University Center. This building is trafficked with students from all over campus from all different majors and a range of ages. Megan and eight other ceramic students drug down pottery wheels, clay, and tools over to the University Center one day and threw clay on the wheels in front of a supportive student audience for three hours. I think I could speak for all nine public throwers that the positive feedback and interest from a non-artist audience is what reassures us and fuels us to keep community ceramic practices going.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters: Clay Day

Members of the Big Brother Big Sister program will be lead through a day filled with learning clay-working techniques. On Thursday, November 29th 2012, eighteen members (nine pairs of Bigs and Littles) will be introduced to wheel throwing, hand-building, and glazing. Members will spend an hour at each station lead by both Megans and other volunteering ceramic students. Both Big and Little pairs will walk away with a common new found knowledge of clay working!

Class Presentation PDF


I have (Megan Hatcher) been a Big Sister for two young girls in the Missoula community. My most recent match loves being creative and working with her hands. I introduced her to some basic ceramic skills, and she immediately fell in love with the art! When the opportunity of this school project came about, I decided that I would like to introduce other Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) participants to ceramics as well.


The process first involved getting the activity approved by BBBS. The project was approved and an announcement was sent out via email to all of the BBBS matches. Over 20 matches signed up for the activity within 3 hours of the announcement!! The lovely Meagan Schrey joined me in the project, and planning the event began from there. We decided to make mugs for everyone to glaze the day of the event. Two weeks in advance, we each made ten mugs with earthenware clay. We bisque fired the mugs and they were ready to go for the event! Meagan took over the hand building station, while I took over the wheel throwing station. She decided to have the children make masks. In advance, Meagan made newspaper molds over which slabs of clay were draped. Each Little and Big had a blank canvas for whatever kind of mask they wanted to make! She also provided photos of different kinds of masks, to spark ideas in the minds of the artists. Meagan and I wedged up 40 or so balls of clay in preparation for wheel throwing. I then got several wheels equipped with tools, water buckets, trays, and a pre-centered ball of clay. Lastly, we set up a table with the assortment of mugs and glazes. Volunteers managed this table throughout the event. The fun then began!!

Challenges and Success

Overall, the event was very successful and fun! The few challenges we faced were cleaning up mounds of wheel trays after the event, as well as a few communication errors throughout the process. We were really excited so many matches wanted to get involved, but were sad we could only allow nine to participate. Everyone had a great time! Most individuals were very independent and improved their technique by trial and error. Meagan and I believe that a handful of ceramic artists were born that day!


Q: What was your inspiration for the project?
A: My inspiration was I have a little sister match named Kelly and she’s ten. She’s very crafty and really enjoys art. So she has been to the studio a couple of times and I’ve taken clay home a couple of times. I’ve made stuff with her and she absolutely loved it and wanted to learn about it. When this project was offered I thought it was a great opportunity to get other matches involved as well. I had to contact the Big Sisters, Little Sister to get approved and get it scheduled and send out an announcement. Within three hours we had over twenty matches that responded and saying they wanted to participate. We were really excited everyone was so pumped about it.

Q: Did you give them a prompt?
A: A little bit, but I mainly wanted them to do whatever they wanted to do.

Q: How was it working with children?
A: I really didn’t think about it before but little kids just think really differently. It was fun. I really didn’t know how to keep them interested. They had really short attention spans on the wheel. They loved it but they kept looking all around. It was fun. One girl chatted, just telling me how to do everything. When they lose their attention and stick their fists in the pot, and wanted me to come over and fix it. I fixed three people pots at the same time so it was kinda crazy.

Q: What were the challenges and success?
A: 16 wheels to clean, that was a nightmare! And we had to be at two places at once, at the wheel, and the glazing station, difficulty in communicating. There’s just needed to be a lot of people in the project. There was difficulty at times. I was kinda afraid they wouldn’t focus like I was thinking three hours would be too long but they totally dug it the entire time so it was cool. One of the kids didn’t leave until 8. And I was talking to the Big Brother leader and he said this was the coolest thing they’ve done in Big Brother and they requested to this again.

Chaotic Clay

This group plans on introducing Fourth graders to the fun of wheel throwing. Although students experience clay a few times throughout school, they are often steered away from the wheel. Tracy and Rebekah wish to give these young students the opportunity to make a cup, something they could use everyday and relish in their work of art!
The plan is to split one selected Fourth grade class, and have each half come into the studio for an hour and a half to learn throwing skills over a span of two days. Other volunteers from our class will come in to help to give students more directed instruction on centering, dropping the hole, pulling, and shaping. Once student are through, they will pick out a desired glaze where the two team leaders will bisque then glaze the student cups. When the process is all through, they will then give the finished cups back to the students where they can share with them with their classmates and with their families.

Class Presentation


Q: What was the main idea that started this?
A: The inspiration behind teaching a bunch of forth graders was Tracy daughter who comes in to the studio wants to throw on the wheel, which is a problem in the schools view. So Tracy sent a invitation to the 4th grade class at Rattle Snake School and it was a widely accepted idea.

Q: What was the Process?
A: So we wedged a lot of clay and are wrists started to crack and pop by the end. We also centered all the clay on the wheels because we didn’t was chaos and just wait for them to show up. We ended up with more people both nights than we planned on, which turned out great because we had more clay than we needed.

Q: What was it like for them?
A: It was the first time for them, so Tracy sat down in the middle and started talking them through, the basics like push your thumb in the center, etc. It was wild and they picked it up very quickly. For a bunch of 4th graders it was kind of embarrassing that their pots looked better than my first ones. Their was a ton of questions from the kids and without the help from the rest of the class we couldn’t have done it so we really appreciate it.

Q: What are you going to do with the bowls?
A: We are firing them and bringing them back to Rattle Snake and give them back to the kids.

Teapot Outreach

Eugene has always felt concern for the homeless citizens in today’s society and holds respect and compassion for the ones who treat passerbys with kindness. To four selected homeless Native American individuals, he is presenting to them each one of his handmade teapots. Gene looks forward to the journey these teapots take with each of his “brothers”.

Class Presentation PDF


“My making process went very smooth and finished my eight teapots in expected time. I’m proud to be able to give homeless people a handmade gift, something they aren’t used to at all. I am looking forward to seeing their expression when I give them one of my teapots.”


Q: What is your project about?
A: My sister came over for the weekend. And it was on a Sunday so we decided to do this. Before we loaded these up I had some certain people I wanted to give them too and this old lady took off running from me. She got scared so I went to my sister and said, “Maybe you should do this.” My plan was to care about the people on the streets and I try to walk every day and if I have a few pennies or something I give them to them. These people I’ve known them for a while, they are very appreciated of anything. This guy here, I’ve known him for a while, and he likes to sit downtown at Worden’s. He was going to go home to put coffee in there.

Q: What did your sister think of the project?
A: She really liked it. She thought it was great. When we first went out there and that old lady took off running, she just busted out laughing and I felt bad for her because an old Indian was coming at her, “Hey! Hey!” You know. We had fun. We took our time and we walked around. They were pretty happy, I wish I had more.

Q: Would you like to do this again in the future?
Sure, anything to help anybody