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SWIZ - Mugs 'n' Stuff....yep! More lamps (and some pendants).

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OK. I've been wanting to make my own mugs for a while now and I finally enrolled in a part-time ceramics course to give me the kick up the bum I need. It's 2hrs once a week for 9 weeks so progress is going to be slow unless I start doing some work at home, which hopefully I will.

The teacher does slip casting herself so it looks like i'll be in good hands. Had my first night tonight and this where i'm up to so far.No name for him yet, I think i'll just call him #1.

Next week i'll be changing the eyes a bit as i'm not happy with them, they dont look the same as in my sketch. Then i'll do the mouth and fix the goatee and then shape and smooth it ready to dry out so I can make the mold.

[ Edited by swizzle on 2023-12-31 02:40:24 ]

Looks cool! Love the raised "eyebrow"!

[ Edited by: zerostreet 2011-02-09 04:42 ]

Love the name, so BOLD!!! :lol:

You go Swizz!!! Have fun, you're off to a great start


Looks very nice! Love the eyebrow does have a great effekt on the face.. real cool :)

GROG posted on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 9:29 AM

Well it's about f**kin' time! Every day GROG say to GROGself, "Why the hell hasn't Swizzle started making mugs?" Good start. Be careful of undercuts when making molds. It's hard to tell in the photo, but looks like you might have some undercuts under the nose. Good luck and good start.

Swizzel, I'll be following your thread. I see a Carless Navigor mug in your future. Great start, I too love the raised eyebrow. Hugs, Wendy

Looking awesome already Swizzle!
He's going to be great..
As Grog says, IT'S ABOUT TIME!! :wink:
Have fun with it..

[ Edited by: Beachbumz 2011-02-09 10:34 ]


All right, Swizzle! Taking the plunge!

Art instructors are generally not too keen on Tiki. Not art to them (probably because it's something that can actually be sold) :)
What was the reaction from yours?



She seemed fine with it Dave. Being a short course for adults I dont think it's an issue with her. She was quite intrigued with my fascination with Tiki. And I think she respected me because I told her I knew the process involved and could do it on my own, I was just wanting someone to guide me through all the pitfalls I might come across.

P.S. Thanks to all above for your compliments. Thanks GROG also for the advice about undercuts. I am aware of that and will make sure I dont have any when I clean it up.

[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-02-15 00:54 ]


Here's the progress on my mug after my second class. Fixed the eyes, did the mouth and added teeth and fine tuned the nose. He's not as smooth as i'd like but i'm happy enough with him to start the mold next week. Any mug makers out there who can give me a tip on how to get a smooth finish on the tighter areas where I cant get my fingers in? I was using a soft paint brush dipped in water which worked OK but it's still not perfect. Or is it just a matter of using wooden tools and a steady hand?

I wish I knew. I do a lot of sanding and carving on the cast once is it dried. On eBay they sell sets of dental tools that work well for detail. I hope someone has more advise I could use it too. Hugs, Wendy

hewey posted on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 2:36 AM

Looks good mate


Started on my mold this week. I was hoping to do it last week but after looking at the master I ended up modifying it a bit as i'm only doing a three piece mold (with the spare) and it looked liked I might have some problems with it separating around the mouth so he's ended up more round than when I started.

My teachers method of doing the first pour of plaster is different to the posts i've seen by Wendy Cevola and other mug makers on this forum. Being shown this way does actually seem a little easier to me than what i've seen on this site. I'll be interested to see what others think of the method i'm/we are doing. I also like the way she has made the box. Each piece of wood has an L shaped bracket screwed to it which allows the other pieces to slot up nicely next to the other (you can just see it in the third photo). I plan on making one of my own this way which will be closer in size to a standard mug. The one we are using is quite large. She also recommended I get some bicycle tubes to hold the mold together when it comes to pouring.

Here he is inside the box. Instead of packing the base with clay and around the master it is just propped up on two blocks of clay and the plaster is poured in around him up to the separation line. The idea is to remove those clay blocks after all the pieces have been poured and then do another pour to fill the holes. (I took a photo but my camera was going flat so it didn't work, i'll try to remember to take one again next week).

Now as mentioned above instead of packing the base with clay to stop the plaster leaking out, we filled up the cracks on the outside of the box with clay to stop it from doing that. You can see how in these two photos. She also didn't measure the plaster as we were mixing, but instead went by feel (although she did say it's about 2/1 plaster/water). It was actually very thick when we poured it so that therefore made it more difficult for it to leak out of any gaps and also, as she said, makes the mold more dense and stronger.

Here it is after pouring the plaster in and then with the box removed and the guide markers added. The excess plaster on the master will be removed before the second half of the mold is poured, I didnt have time to do that tonight as the class was finishing up.

More pics next week.

[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-03-02 05:20 ]

Hi Swizzle, this is very different. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the steps. How much plaster is under the backside of the tiki master? Will at denser plaster still pull the same amount of water out of the slip? Wendy

[ Edited by: danlovestikis 2011-03-02 08:08 ]


Hi Wendy,

There's about 1" - 1 1/2" of plaster below the master. I'm not sure if the denser plaster will make any difference to how much water gets sucked out. I'll have to find out next week.

Hi Swizzle, i just read your information on MauiTiki's thread. I was told by a master mold maker, he did this as his profession for 25 years that the plaster should have the consistency of buttermilk. So far that's worked for mine. But I have wondered what happens if it's denser. Wendy

Great thread - I will be watching with much anticipation.


I didn't do an update last week as there wasn't much to show and the photo that I wanted to show didn't work for some reason. Here's an update from tonights class.

First of all here is the picture that shows the way my teacher props the master up for the first pour that I tried to explain in Mautiki's thread (i've taken this photo three weeks in a row and it only worked now).

After the first pour the master had plaster that had splashed on him (pic. on page 1) that had to be cleaned up ready for the second pour. Here it is cleaned up and back in the box ready for the second pour.

Tonight we split the two halfs to see how it looked and it separated nicely. I'm very happy with how it's turned out.

After a quick clean it was re-assembled to pour the top part of the mold with the spare, which you can see sitting on the top in the first photo. Although it's not perfectly straight and square in the mold, they will be when they come out and I can clean them up after each pour. It is just another thing that i've learnt in the process of making a mold for a mug that I can change when I make another. I must say that after seeing Wendys and Mautiki's threads, and what my teacher has shown me, i'll know that I will be taking tips i've learnt from each of them to make my next mold with 100% confidence and knowing that i'll get it right the first time.

Hopefully i'll be ready to pour, if not next week, then definitely the week after. That will be a whole new thing to learn as will be glazing.

P.S. Wendy, I did my first test glaze sample. It will be fired this week so i'll post a pic of it next week. Also, my teacher mixes her plaster thicker than buttermilk and said she wasn't sure if the denser plaster made any difference to how much water it would pull out of the slip, just that it made the mold more durable.

[ Edited by: swizzle 2018-03-12 18:26 ]

Nice work! Looking forward to seeing more!

Hi Swizzle, I really enjoy your photos. Seeing another technique is helpful for all of us. I plan to make more molds of my Tiki Bob decanter so right now the first mold is unopened until I'm ready.

I had to free up another section of wall for more glaze tests. Keep a record. When I glaze I pull the chips from the wall and match them up with the glaze jars and then as I paint I can refer to them.

You are going to enjoy this so much. I love the work and challenge. I can see you will too. Grog and my mold instructor said that what makes a strong lasting mold is to let it completely dry out before it's first use.

Best Wishes for a perfect first mug, Wendy

GROG posted on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 12:52 PM

When GROG mix plaster for making mold, the way GROG learned to get the right mixture is to first pour in the water in plastic container. Then add plaster a handful at a time so you can crush the lumps if it has lumps. Keep adding plaster until you have enough that it floats on the surface like an island. Spread it flat and let it sit until it soaks up enough water that it looks like it is all cracked, looking like mud cracking in a dried-up lakebed. Then mix with a dowel. Tap the sides to get the bubbles to come to the surface and blow on the bubbles to make them pop. Pour the plaster in the mold starting at the lowest part in the mold. GROG use a spatula to wipe out excess in the container. Tap the sides of the mold firmly to get the bubbles to rise and the plaster to settle flat. To clean the spatula and container, let them dry out completely. Squash and bend the container and spatula and the plaster residue will break off. Do not wash plaster off in your sink because it will dry in your pipes and clog them. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you mix plaster because if you breath plaster dust it could go into your lungs and stick and harden and cause breathing problems. And like Wendy said, let your molds dry completely before you start casting and your molds will last longer.

GROG miss Tiki-Kate

[ Edited by: GROG 2011-03-17 12:53 ]


OK, here's this weeks update. First of thank you Tikiwahine and zerostreet.

I learnt something interesting last night which my teacher wasn't exactly clear about from the beginning. As i've mentioned and posted photos of in my previous posts (and Mauitikis thread), the way my teacher showed me how to do the first pour was to use a couple of cones of clay to prop up the master and then pour around it and remove them later and fill them in. Now apparently thats the way the "professionals" do it, however what she didn't mention was that that first pour of plaster will be thrown out and repoured after the second. So it is effectively cutting out having to pack clay around the master and then removing that clay and doing the second pour to achieve the same result.
Removing the cones and filling them with plaster is the "cheats" way of not having to throw out all the plaster used in the first pour. I have all the materials needed to make another mold this weekend and i'm not 100% sure how i'll go about it exactly but I do know i'll by using tips i've learnt both here on TC and from my teacher.

Now to the plaster, Wendy, my teacher said thicker than buttermilk herself and the way we were doing was the same way as GROG mentioned (thanks for your advice GROG), however we just stuck our hands straight in and broke up all the lumps with our fingers.

My mould is finished now so i'm ready to pour my first mug.I'll be going in on the Tuesday night class to pour one so that it will be ready to remove on Wednesday night which is the day I usually go. Very anxious and excited to see how it will turn out.

Then it'll be time for glazing, and that will be interesting. Wendy, you mentioned in a previous post that Babalu told you to glaze test, glaze test, glaze test. I can now see why.

Here is my first test glaze strip.

I went into my local ceramic supply place and was told they didn't have purple (my favourite colour) and would have to mix my own using blue and red, obviously. Now if you cant quite see from the picture, going from left to right I mixed 10 parts red to 2 parts blue. Then 10-4, 10-6, 10-8 then equal parts red/blue (in the middle) and then reversed that blue/red. As you can see, I certainly dont see any colour there that you could really call purple, at least not a shade i'm after. So it's back to the drawing board. The master and mold, to me at least, is quite simple, but glazing is a whole other ball-game. I think i'm going to have quite a few test glaze mugs floating around at the start.:D

I love that strip. I haven't started mixing yet but that's on my list of must do's. Cheers, Wendy


Today I went in on the Tuesday class and poured my first mug. WooHoo. Here's a pic of the slip in the mold. Not very exciting, but it was interesting to learn and see what the spare is there for. It was amazing how much of it actually sinks into the mold before it dries enough to pour the excess slip out. (We let it sit for just over 30mins).

I'll be able to remove it tomorrow and my teacher said i'll actually be able to pour another one after it's removed.
So excited. I hope it comes out OK. (The black strap you can see holding the mould together is just two thin bits of a car inner tube the teacher cut up. I was amazed that that was all she used and it works. I went to the hardware store and spent $20 on some tension straps.:-?)

Here's also a couple of pics of a some other stuff i've done/working on. First is just a little skull I made when I had 20mins or so to kill in class after working on my mold. Also gave me something to practice glazing on. Glaze isn't perfect but I think he's pretty cool.

Now I also had a guy I met through a Kustom Kulture gallery, who does resin moulding, ask me to make a gearstick shifter. After pouring the mug I got to work on this Moai.

Want to work on the ears, do the mouth and clean it up, then it'll be cast in resin. About 4" tall. I'll have some more pics to post tomorrow.

[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-03-29 04:41 ]

hewey posted on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 4:55 AM

Cool stuff mate :D


Looks like a lot of fun. That skull is sweet!

There's no going back, you are hooked! It's the best addiction there is. Enjoy, Wendy


I'm going to start of this post with just saying how much respect I have for all the talented mug makers on this site. You already had it from me before but after tonights class you have soooo much more of it. Wendy Cevola, Mauitiki, MadDog Mike, Beachbumz, GROG, and then what can you say about the 'true' masters at this caper. Munktiki, Crazy Al, Gecko, Bai, Squid, Babalu, Bowana, Vantiki and anyone else I might have missed. It is a truly HUGE time consuming effort to produce consistent high quality mugs.
(Thanks also hewey and LOL Tiki).

Alright, what an exciting, and informative class I had tonight. I pulled my first mug from the mold that I have spent the last eight weeks making in my weekly ceramic course and i'm VERY happy with my first attempt.

Here's some pics of the mold and the mug opened for the first time.

The mug on it's own showing the 'spare' on top which allows for shrinkage as the slip is settling and water is being drawn into the mold. (I know it's not level on the top, I cleaned that up after).

These close-up pics show the seam where the two parts of the mold meet which needs to be cleaned up and also several places where it looks like I might have left some slight undercuts. (There was also a small one on the top of the goatee in the pic above. That, and the one on the eyebrow, left pic, were the worst).

After seeing these imperfections I then scraped away at the plaster mold in the places where those appeared and made the mold much smoother in those spots. I then reassembled the mold and poured another mug which i've bought home and will remove tomorrow. Now the REALLY big thing I learnt tonight after seeing the mug out of the mold the first time, is to get you master as PERFECT as you can before you start on the mold. This will save a hell of a lot of time you spend cleaning up each mug you pour. The plaster really does pick up every single detail in the master, and if it's not smooth and/or even you will have to clean it up after. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the second mug comes out after cleaning and smoothing the mold out. As i've said in past posts, the mold itself is not as daunting as it might seem (unless you start making 6, 7, 8 piece molds etc. Wendy, i'm looking at you :P). Glazing is a whole other ballgame to learn, but any other mugs I might make in the future, I know now that i'll be spending a lot of time on the master, getting IT right, before I even think about making a mold from it. You either spend several hours getting ONE perfect- the master, or you can spend several hours getting each and every one you pour perfect. I know which one i'd rather do in the future.:D

Anyway, after all that rambling here are a few more pics of where I got up to cleaning the first pour before the class ended. Still needs a little work but i'm stoked. I'll post some more pics tomorrow of the second mug with the cleaned up mold.

Hi Swizzle, I'm amazed at the fine detail that shows up in your teeth. I had wondered if your mold would be able to produce that. Good job. Your mold is not that bad. Even the molds I bought from Gecko who has done it forever left me with major clean up on every mug. It's just part of the craft. I spent four hours yesterday cleaning up and perfecting 7 Lanai mugs.

At the hardware store they have screen sandpaper. The dust falls through and it lasts a long time. I cut it into little squares. It takes the excess off really fast.

How many more weeks does your class last? Wendy

GROG posted on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 8:46 AM

To get the top and bottom flat, lay sand paper flat on the table and move your mug around in a circular motion, turn over, and do the opposite end. Don't press down or you'll bust the sides. Don't do it when it's too dry and brittle because the sides will break, and don't do it when it's too wet because it will collapse. The best time is when it's leather hard or just a little drier than leather hard.

Swizzle your mug came out great! My last mold I was able to make with very minimal air bubbles, etc.. I think I was using to much of the mold soap and it was creating extra work for me when I pulled it out of the mold.. after cutting off the excess slip let harden just a little and smooth it down with a kinda wet spoonge then get in there with your detail tools..
GROG that's a great way to get your top and bottoms nice and flat, I learned that after making a few.. I use my concrete sidewalk outside the house, works perfect as long as clean it first from any rocks and tings..:wink:
Very Cool Swizzle, congrats on your first mug brada.. Here comes the fun part, Glazing!

[ Edited by: Beachbumz 2011-03-30 12:07 ]

Congrats Swizz!! Have fun and let your imagination run FREE!!!


Thanks Wendy, GROG, Beachbumz, and MadDogMike for your comments and advice.

Wendy, I have only one more class left for this semester but will go back after the Easter break and do another one. I'm also going in on the Tuesday night class again to pour another mug, so i'll have had three mugs poured in total from this class. I've never heard of screen sandpaper, i'll have to look into that.

GROG, thanks for the very logical and practical advice about the sandpaper. Didn't even think of that.

Beachbumz, my teacher told me to go buy a proper sea sponge to clean it up with, so that is exactly what i'll be doing. And your right, the fun part is coming up next, glazing.

MDM, ummm.....thanks. :)

[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-03-30 13:41 ]

GROG posted on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 1:47 PM

Glazing sucks!

Glazing is great fun when it works - but when it fails it really SUCKS!!! :lol:


Thanks for the boost in confidence there guys. :D


Glazing is the fun part because it's the final step...Everything leads up to glazing. I suggest glaze testing as much as possible... But your first few mugs will always be a learning experience. I can't wait to see what color you choose and how it turns out. I will pour the glaze into the mug and then spin it as I pour out the excess glaze. It's an easy way to get Even coverage on the inside.

I'm excited to see each step you take, keep posting the photos!

At our hardware store it's those large rectangles in the picture that I cut up. Open stock in the sandpaper section.

Then in plumbing there are rolls called Abrasive Open Mesh by Oatey. People buy it to remove hard water rings from toilets.

There are good uses for both types.

This stuff is good and it lasts so much longer than sandpaper which clogs.

I'm enjoying your journey, Wendy


Pulled the second mug from the mold today. I cant believe how easily it came out. I also suprised myself with what a good job I did cleaning up the rough patches on the mold. Here are the pics I posted yesterday of the first mug next to the second one for comparison. The lighting on the pics are a bit different but you should be able to see that all the scuff marks are now gone.

I was planning to make another mold this weekend, but I think i'm going to spend the time cleaning up the mold I already have further, and also cleaning up the master and doing a second mold of that when it's smoother all over.

P.S. MauiTiki, thanks for the tip. That's exactly how I had planned to coat the inside already. Great minds think alike. :)


Wow, second mug looks good. The longer you leave the mug in the mold the easier it is to get out because it shrinks as it dries. Some come out easier than others. I still have to clean up scratch marks on some of my mugs if I don't remove them from the mold carefully. Keep up the great work!


This weeks update.
After pulling my first two mugs from the mold, last weekend I decided to clean up the master and make another mold from that. I used a scraper and smoothed out the back of the mug and then carved out the eye sockets and around the goatee, giving it more definition. I used my teachers technique, and also MauiTiki's, to make a three piece mold that is a little different from the original. I was a bit concerned that I might have some undercuts, and also that I hadn't made the separation line level, but the first pour from my new mold came out fine. (I was surprised to see that the second mug was smaller than the original when I took these photos. I gather that that is from the master shrinking from the time I originally made it, to when I went back to it to make the changes i did).

First, here is a pic of the second mold. It's a little rough, but it has done its job.

Now here are front, side, and back views of the original mug next to version 2.0. There is quite a noticeable difference between the two with the deeper carving I did on the resculpt.

I now have four mugs from the original mold and one from the second. Having two molds, I plan to use both and make mugs from both although I will use the mugs from the first mold to use as test glazes and give those to my friends. Version 2.0 will be the ones I plan to sell. :D If anyone is interested please send me a PM. :wink: I'm still not sure how many I will make and also what the final colour will be.

My ceramic course has finished at the moment and won't resume until after the Easter break. When I go back, two of the mugs will have had their bisque fire so i'll be ready to glaze my first ever mugs. That's about a month away, so there probably wont be any posts until then. Although I already have an idea for my second mug where I plan to step it up, not just one, but several levels. I hope I can pull it off and am not biting of more than I can chew. If I get any of that done in the meantime, i'll post some pics.


[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-04-08 01:28 ]

[ Edited by: swizzle 2011-04-08 03:03 ]

I like the deeper carves Swizz. Over in the Carving Forum they say "The deeper the better!" :o

That's a really cool mug. I like the deeper version also. Did you come up with a good purple? Wendy

Of course, the downside is that a mug with deeper carves holds less rum! :lol:

ebtiki posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 2:14 PM

Lookin' great - definitely let us know when you're ready to release them into the wild!


On 2011-04-08 08:57, MadDogMike wrote:
Of course, the downside is that a mug with deeper carves holds less rum! :lol:

It's funny you say that MDM. After I had cleaned the mug up I was looking inside it and thought to myself, "Well, I won't be putting as much ice in this as I will be in the other one". :D

Thanks for the compliments MDM, Wendy and ebtiki.

No I haven't come up with a purple yet Wendy. My local store told me that he is looking at importing some soon anyway, so i'll be able to mix that a bit easier when I get some.

I'll let you know ebtiki.


Just thought i'd post a quick update. Here are some pics of all the mugs I have poured of "General Ra Ra" (yes, that's his name :lol:) so far. These are all ready to be bisque fired. I have two more of the original sculpt fired already that are at school and will be the first to be glazed when I return for the new semester next week. I'm really looking forward to it.

First sculpt.

Second sculpt.

I'm quite suprised how much smaller the mug on the far right is compared to the rest of them. That mug was the first I poured with the second mold I made and was also poured at school. The slip that I used at school was a lot thicker than the one I bought from my ceramic supplier. Obviously it has something to do with the amount of water in the slip and how that is sucked into the mold and/or the fact that it is the first time the mold is being used, but I cant quite get my head around it at the moment.

The mug on the right of this pic (below) is the last I poured with the slip I had. Unfortunately, whilst it filled the mold up to the top of the mug itself, there wasn't enough to fill the spare to allow for shrinkage. Every five minutes or so I kept tipping the mold on it's side to pour more slip towards the top. I thought that I would just have to scrap this mug but when I pulled the mug from the mold it happened to be at the exact height the mug would have ended up after I cut the spare off anyway, it just happened to be a lot thinner than it should be and you could actually see lines around the top where it dried each time I tipped the mold (forgot to take photos). Because of that this mug will be just another test glaze i'll keep for myself (all the others except two are spoken for) so I decided to modify it a little. I used some of the excess clay from the spare I cut off another mug and made his nose larger and added a Fu Manchu style beard to the side of his mouth. It's a little hard to see in the pics.

(Next to an original so you can see the difference.)

I also customized one of each sculpt with some woodgrain detail. I'm looking forward to glazing these two to see how they turn out.

More pics in a week or so of my very first glazed mugs. I can't wait. Cross your fingers for me please. :D

You've got a production line running there Swizz. Those will look wicked cool when glazed!

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