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  • by Barb (Edtl) Shelton

Sunflower Mug Beefore, During & Afters

I enjoy the process of creating these mugs as much as I enjoy the finished products! So much so, in fact, that I've made five of them now! I do them freehand ~ as in no pattern; I just had a prototype I looked at, which I will show you at the end. (Cuz I want you to see mine first so you won't be disappointed after you've seen hers! 😄)

I thought you'd enjoy seeing the "beefore," "during," and "after" stages of my process. Not because you'll necessarily want to duplicate them; I just know how much I enjoy seeing how a thing is made, even if I'll never try it myself.

First, for those of you who are on your lunch break or just in a hurry, (or just have short attention spans,) here are all three stages:

Before, During, & After's of Barb Shelton's Sunflower Mugs /

So there you go, you minimalists who want just the basics and/or need to get going! You're all done!!! You are excused! Bye-bye!


(ONLY for minimalists,




For those who have more time and who enjoy more detail, here's... well... more detail on all three of the above stages!!!

First, my always-messy workplace, whence cometh my creations...

Work area for Barb Shelton's Sunflower Mugs /

The paints that go on the white tiles (above) and are applied with a brush are in the numbered bottles in the lower left area in the picture below. These coordinate with the numbered paint guide on the left in the top part of the picture, so we can see what the fired color looks like.

The smaller bottles with needles on the top are called "writer pens" and we use these to do the detailed work that you'll be seeing in a moment.

Just so you know, I'll be interchanging photos of two different mugs herein. The two mugs are similar, (two of the five I've made,) but, since I make each one from scratch, without a pattern, I change things each time I do one, so they all turn out differently.

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The mug above and below has smaller, scallopy-edged leaves; the one in most of the "during" and "after" pics below has larger, smoother-edged leaves. Just didn't want you getting confused!

The table with my ceramic mess, making my sunflower mug. /


Here's the true and official "beefore" picture of the mug. At least where I intercept it. This is a "Mini Lodge" mug, and is what, in Ceramic Land, is called the "bisque" stage:

"Beefore" pic of a sunflower mug /

The Mini Lodge mug was hand-thrown on the wheel, and then the handle was attached. Then this was put in a kiln and bisque-fired at about 1,925 degree for about 24 hours.

The white surface has a chalky feel to it and is a bit rough. So you can only get so detailed on the finer work. (as you'll see)


Coming up next are several photos of when I had two different mugs all painted, but before they were fired.

One of the most fun things about ceramics is seeing the difference before and after the piece is fired!!!

I did a lot of blending ~ of the greens on the leaves and the sunflower petals ~ but these will look very different, and much less "blended," in the fired piece.

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

Here's the mug you'll be seeing the main "after" pictures of, with very different leaves from the ones above. (What can I say?!? I like variety! 😄)

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

You can see my rough-draft pencil lines here, but no worries ~ the lead burns away when fired in the kiln.

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

The paint, which is a glaze that is glass frit-based ("frit" is tiny pieces of colored glass) can't stain anything! Once dried, it just brushes right off!!! This was great news for a messy worker like me!!!

I love doing little ladybugs, scrollies and curly-cues!

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

As you can see here, the handle is the stem(!), and the whole base of the mug is the center of the flower.

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

I used three tones of brown for the sunflower center, applying them with different sizes of paintbrush tips, and taking a few of them up between the petals.

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

I normally put my signature and the year I made it on the bottom of the piece I'm making, but since the base of this mug is part of the art, I had to find another place for it! So I nestled it inside the lower part of the handle!

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

It's a bit tricky writing a name in cursive, inside a handle ~ no place to rest my hand for stability, plus I'm writing on a curve with a bottle with a tip on it! Plus the area I'm writing in so small, maybe 1/5 inch high! So that explains the non-excellent nature of my signature.

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /

Before firing, the paint is very soft looking, as you can see above and below. Even bold and bright colors look pastelish at this stage. (Just wait! You'll see!!!)

"During" pic of a sunflower mug /


And now (drumroll, please!), the finished product!!!! The previously mentioned glass frit paint is a glaze that, when it's fired to approximately 1,850 degrees, all the tiny glass particles therein become a sheet of glass by melting and fusing together.

The process takes approximately 24 hours from heating up the kiln to the 1,850 degrees, to the cool-down.

"After" pic of a sunflower mug /

Here's a good view of the stem and how it splits and extends to the leaves:

"After" pic of a sunflower mug /

I love the contrasting, bright red inside of the mug ~ which matches the ladybugs!

"After" pic of a sunflower mug /

The leaves didn't turn out as I would have liked, but I'm still on a learning curve and will try something different next time!

"After" pic of handle & leaf of a sunflower mug /

Aren't these colors just rich and vibrant?!?!? I was very happy with how these petals and the brown center turned out!

"After" pic of a sunflower mug - flower, stem + leaf /

It almost looks like an actual sunflower with a stem sitting there!!! Except you can put coffee in it!!!

"After" pic of a sunflower mug - bottom + handle /

And one last view of it!!!

"After" pic of a sunflower mug /

And here's the mug with the scallop-edge leaves...

"After" pic of a scallop-leafed sunflower mug /

Isn't it just amazing how much

the paint changes after firing?!?!


Here's the original mug that I saw on Pinterest. As you can see, I didn't copy it, (I free-hand drew and painted mine,) but hers was certainly my inspiration!!!

Prototype quad-pic of a sunflower mug /

Hers above is in just the "beefore" and "during" stages. See below for her "after" mug!

The amazing artist of this original piece is Julia Foster. I didn't realize until I just recently found this picture of her that her mug is much larger than mine! (Now you can see why I saved these pictures for the end ~ her artistic skills far exceed mine!)

Artist of sunflower mug prototype, Julie Foster /

I would LOVE to personally thank Julia for her wonderful inspiration, but the link takes us only to the quad picture above, not to the site itself. So Julia! ~ If you happen to stumble upon this page, please let me know as I would love to give you a cyber-hug!

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