10 Handmade Mugs for Summer

by Grace Bonney

Over the past few weeks, Kelli and I have been working around the clock on the second Design*Sponge book (you can check out the first here). Every waking moment has been devoted to squeezing as many photoshoots as possible into July and August (our book is due in September!) and we have been fueling ourselves on sheer excitement — and lots of coffee. Earlier this week Kelli flew out from California to stay with us in upstate New York and plan the final shoots in person, so we didn’t make any mistakes. Because when you’re planning photoshoots from Melbourne to Nigeria to Los Angeles, there are a lot of moving pieces to coordinate.

Our lives consist mainly of Excel sheets, Google calendar docs, call sheets and copious amounts of caffeine right now, so I thought I’d give a little nod to our biggest book fuel right now — coffee — in the form of a mug roundup. Our mug collection has grown 3-fold this summer as I give into my caffeine love, so this is a good idea of what it looks like to live and work at the DS “office” upstate now. xo, grace

*Thank you for your patience and understanding with our slightly abbreviated posting schedule this summer. I didn’t want to rush or publish half-thought posts while I was working on the final book crunch, so we’ll be running 3 posts a day until September instead of four. But at the end of August we’ll be in the home stretch and things will go back to normal after the Labor Day holiday.

I have been internet-stalking these mugs from Helen Levi for months now. Helen produces a small collection of them every now and then and posts them on Instagram, and each time I'm too slow to get to them. I love the clay color swirled with a white glaze - they're like tiny works of art. $55 at Helen Levi.
Michal Keren Gelman of Free Folding on Etsy makes these beautiful handmade mugs and coffee cups that have hand-drawn patterns and detailing. I love the darker styles without handles, but the tall white mugs are great, practical coffee options. $22-$29 each here.
Every morning both Julia and I drink our coffee from one of Nicholas Newcomb's Hudson Valley Camp mugs. We have a set of 4 that have our names written on the bottom and EVERY time someone comes to visit, they ask where we got these mugs. The simple colored stripe on the top is all it needs to feel classic and current at the same time. Each mug is handmade by Nic and you can pick them up here for $35 each.
I have a soft spot for ceramics that have a slightly earthy, raw feel. This handmade mug by Jeremy Ayers ($30 at Mociun) strikes that perfect balance between rough and smooth and has a striped/cross look that I love.
Brooke Winfrey of BTW Ceramics makes gorgeous speckled mugs that have been a favorite of mine for a while now. I finally got one at last year's Renegade Craft Fair and it now doubles as both a mug for tea and a cute container for flowers by the bed. $46 here.
These Pinched Fold mugs at Leif ($28 each) are handmade and have the sort of wide-mouth I've come to love in a coffee mug. They also come in my favorite colors (black, white and pink) with my favorite design detailing: STRIPES.
Frances Palmer's work is collector-worthy, in my opinion. I've visited people's homes who have large collections of her work and it's something I truly aspire to one day. Not because of any status I'm hoping to achieve, but because I truly believe Frances is one of the most gifted artists in our community. She also happens to be one of the kindest and most inspiring people I know. These oversized mugs she's selling at Food52 are truly special pieces - and perfect for people who prefer their coffee in large quantities, or in the more traditional, French bowl-style. Each one is handmade and the stripes have such a sweet, gestural quality to them. You can check them out in more detail and order at Food52 right here for $98 each.
Vitrified Studio's dark brown and white mugs are a dream purchase of mine. They remind me of something my parents would have used (and loved) in the 1970s, but updated with a more modern, straight-edged handle. A set of four mugs is $140 right here.
Little Wren Pottery in the UK makes the sweetest mugs for mornings. I love how simple their forms are, but how they still manage to get some texture and depth into each one with a beautiful glaze and ribbed structure. This mug set is $22.50 at their Etsy shop.
ClamLab in Brooklyn makes these great mugs that are on the smaller side and perfect for anyone who doesn't want to hold a large cup. I love that they look like they have a rougher finish, but they're actually incredibly smooth and glossy. $48 here.

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  • Love this post! I adore Frances Palmer’s work so much. All the other cups and mugs are wonderful as well.

  • I have one of Shelly’s mugs from Vitrified Studio, had a pair but my labrador’s always wagging tail contributed to the loss of one. With a cupboard full of handmade mugs, the remaining one is my ‘favorite’. Thank you for this post, I love to check out ‘new to me’ potters. I just found Lucky Rabbit pottery in Annapolis Royale, Nova Scotia..saving for a piece.

  • Glad you’re taking the summer “slow” quality is greater than quantity!

    Also, these are beautiful. I’m picky about my mugs, I prefer smaller mugs that you can hold in your hand, my main complaint about a lot of handmade mugs is how wide they are. Luckily I inherited beautiful perfect sized mugs from my grandfather. My favorite family heirloom thus far.

  • So excited to see fellow native Vermonter Jeremy’s work here! (side note, his last name should be Ayers with an A instead of an E)

  • If you haven’t already stumbled across Kati Von Lehman’s work during your travels in Portland, OR you should take a look.

    I drink out of my ceramic tumbler every day at work and get a million compliments. Somehow it makes sitting in meetings and behind a desk all day a little better.