Coil Mugs


I try to include a couple clay projects every year. Since 8th graders are often a tad grumpy, I try to excite them with a clay project early on in the school year.

This project is a fun one and usually produces some lovely mugs! Once fully glazed and fired, I bring in hot chocolate for the class; yet another way to get my 8th graders to perk up! There is something so satisfying about drinking out of the pretty mugs we have worked so hard on!


What you need:

Let’s get started!


Class One:

To begin, we look at examples of coil mugs that I pull from the internet.

Then I demonstrate how to draw a coil mug. I begin by drawing the profile of the mug, then the long oval base, then fill it with one coil, spiral, bead, or tile of clay at a time. I find this process helpful in aiding my students in the visualization of their finished mug.

When most of the class is done drawing I give a demonstration on how to make a base:

  • Roll a handful of clay into a ball. (I call it a sphere with 8th graders seeing they can’t help but giggle and turn red if I say ball… Seriously. It drives me crazy.)
  • Pat the clay between your hands into a hockey puck/pancake shape (not on the table as this will squish one side).
  • If the edges get too squished roll on the table.


This is usually all we get done in one hour long class.


Class Two:

Rolling a good coil is a skill that is developed after hours of practice and patience. Like anything, some students get it right off the bat while others either don’t follow instructions or just can’t seem to make it happen.

Things you need to know to roll a good coil:

  • Your hands must be as flat and firm as possible. Firm: another word you can’t use with 8th graders… ughhh!
  • Keep fingers tightly together
  • start rolling at one end of your coil and slowly roll your way to the other.


I instruct my students that if their coil begins to look like a snake that has had a few meals, then it’s time to call me over and I will help fix their coil. Squishing a coil back into a ball may cause air pockets within the clay which will cause an explosion.

Once a nice little coil has been rolled, students must score and slip the first coil onto their base. The rest of the coils should be wet enough to just blend on the inside.


It is important to remind students to support the outside of their mug with one hand while the other blends…

It is also very important to blend every coil as you add them. Waiting until the end to blend is extremely difficult.

After a class or two of building, the kids get into a nice grove of adding coils and details to their mugs. At the beginning of each class I am sure to remind everyone that coils must look nice before added and to blend as they go… As a few student begin to finish I show how to attach coil handles and size them to their hands.

I hope this project is successful for you! Comment with any questions. Have fun! 🙂

Student Examples:

P.S. These pictures are bisqued mugs, they will be glazed next week! I take pictures pre-glaze because sometimes the glaze covers the lovely detail! Enjoy…