Instead of designing flowers and cute animals on her pottery pieces, sculptor Jean Cotton decided that snot, blood, eyebags, and pimples would look much better. And thus, her ‘Aesthetically Challenged Mugs’ were born. In this exclusive interview, Cotton talks about how her line of ugly pottery came to be and how she does it. [Read our original post about Jean Cotton here]
What inspired you to create pottery that’s ‘hideous’ rather than the usual beautiful stuff we see in stores?
My inspiration for my creations came from 19th century, southern style face jugs. It sort of evolved into what I’m doing now – all sorts of faces on my stoneware mugs with as many different expressions I can come up with – from scary to downright goofy.
Each is unique since they are individually hand sculpted. Who wants a plain old store bought mug when you can own one that sort of reflects your own personality? Besides, they’re a great conversation piece too. They’re just not your everyday, ho-hum sort of thing.
Do you have an ugly face in mind before you get started on the pottery, or do you just make it up as you go along? Any pop culture references or inspirations in the making of your mugs?
Most of the time, I make them up as I go along. Hmmm….they just might reflect the mood I’m in when I’m sculpting them. Sometimes I’ll work out a sketch of an idea I have ahead of time. My background is in illustration, so that comes in handy when I want to sketch the concept out before beginning to sculpt.
Zombies are big right now, so I’ll make a bunch of those at a time. Always fun to make with their eyes popping out and rotten teeth.
How long does it usually take you to finish a mug?
From start to finish, each mug takes approx. 2 1/2 hours to create. I begin by throwing them on a pottery wheel, sculpting them (the best part), glazing and bisque firing. Once out of the first firing, they are detailed again and fired a second time
How does it feel that a lot of people are subscribing to this concept of “aesthetically challenged mugs”?
It’s great that people come back and buy again as they own a small collection of them. I’m presently working on a custom order – a large scale piece which features a Devil face on one side and a zombie on the opposite side.
I describe my mugs as ‘aesthetically challenged’. They may not be the prettiest mugs, but they are meant to be fun – and to put a smile on your face.