Funny Face Mugs – History of Funny Face Jugs & Glazed Mugs – Lesson 2

Funny Face Mugs Clay Project Create Art with ME

by Mrs. East

History of Funny Face Jugs and our finished Funny Face Mugs


Students will use distorted proportion to design their funny face mugs. They will practice using hand-building ceramic techniques as well as use the slab construction method to create the mug. They will use additive ceramic methods to attach facial features and the handle. Students will learn about the history of funny face jugs in relation to black history and folk art.




Realistic Proportions VS Exaggeration & Distortion

  1. Proportion is the PRINCIPLE of art concerned with the size relationship of one part compared to another part. When drawing your self portraits you used proportions in determining the size of the face, in figuring out how big the eyes needed to be, etc. Realistic proportions would be as accurately as seen in nature.
  2. Distortion is an ALTERATION (change) from normal or expected proportions. This is achieved by changing the size, location or normal color of an object or part of an object. Bending, wrapping, twisting & deforming are other ways to distort an object.
  3. Exaggeration is a shrinking or enlargement of an object beyond what is expected to be normal.
  4. Pulling, shrinking, expanding are ways to exaggerate proportions.
  5. Where do you find distortion & exaggeration in art? Cartoons & Sculpture (show examples)
  6. Cultural Connection: Funny Face Jugs in Black History-Our funny face mugs are rooted in American folk pottery history.

A Brief and General History of the Face Jug By Karl Kuehn 

Notes Directly from Kuehn’s Article…

  1. Funny Face Jugs (Ugly Jugs) are an American folk pottery art form. “Stories vary about who created face jugs and the reasons for their creation range from the 1700s to the present.”
  2. “Speculation is that slaves who were not allowed to have tomb stones. So they developed face jugs as grave markers designed to scare and keep the devil away.”
  3. “In the 1800’s, many people were becoming ill and dying from the lead glazes used to seal the low-fire pottery that was being used by the settlers of the southern USA. In response, Dr. Abner Landrum founded Pottersville, a group of about 16 or 17 houses with families in the area within 1.5 miles from the Edgefield court house in South Carolina (now Aiken County). It grew into a village of about 150 people, mostly slaves. David Drake is the most notable. They produced lead-free pottery and face jugs until the beginning of civil war.This pottery is now known as Edgefield Pottery.”
  4. “Lanier Meaders (1917-1998) is the most famous Georgia folk potter who made face jugs.  The Meaders family was famous in Georgia for their stoneware pottery.  Lanier was the face jug maker who kept folk art pottery alive in the south almost on his own!”
  5. “Today, a few family-operated potteries are still making face jugs in the traditional way.  They start with the local clay and fire their work in a wood-burning kiln.”

Videos: Funny Face Jugs History:  (25 minutes into the video)

History of the Georgia “Face Jug”

Other videos on Making Funny Face Mugs:


Lesson 1- Funny Face Mugs Slab Construction

Project: Funny Face Mugs Use the slab construction method to create a mug with an expressive face sculpted onto it. Be inspired by the funny face jugs created by American Folk Artist/potter Lanier Meaders. Demonstrate good ceramic techniques such as slip & scoring, storing clay correctly & proper glazing applications.

Here is some examples of glazing:

Here are some finished examples:


If you choose to use any of this lesson (written or photos), please link back to this blog Create Art with ME!


Additional Ceramic Lessons:

Lily Pads with Lotus Flowers

Bird Bath Miniature with Glass Bead

Ceramic Butterfly Bowls Part 1 & Part 2 (Glazed)

Ceramic Box with Lid

Role-A-Beast Animal Ceramic Lesson



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  1. Gaby

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