We’re makers. From throwing mugs to designing marketing materials to making sales calls, we do it all in the spirit of a maker. When Luke started MudLOVE in 2009, he used his rad pottery skills to make lasting change. All these years later, this idea still stands. Our production teams skillfully craft every product from clay, each one a labor of love.
The process matters. Creating 90% of each product in-house allows us to quickly make improvements to the process. Some improvements take months to implement, like changing the way we glaze mugs to reduce costs and defects. Other improvements, like moving a fan to decrease the length of transportation, is achieved in a matter of minutes. The better we get at what we do, the better we can serve our community.
The origin of any great brand starts with a great story and a great product. Think of the Volkswagen Beetle, or the Bic Crystal, or Kraft Mac & Cheese dinners. These were unpretentious products that made cars, ballpoint pens, and fast dinners accessible to everyone. The first 100 bracelets Luke stamped out in the garage sold like hotcakes, cementing our line of Original bracelets as the way to encourage anyone. Let's take a look at how they are made!
Remember Play-Doh factories? We push logs of clay through an extruder to create long coils of clay just like your kids do. These are dried to a specific hardness before they are ready to cut to size.
2. STAMP & PUNCH
The team takes these coils and uses our custom jigs to create the bracelet shape. The jig stamps the word and cuts the bracelet to size, all in one motion. Then they clean the edges and punch two holes into the bracelet.
3. FIRST FIRING
Unfired bracelets are dried until they are “bone dry.” They are then placed in the kiln and fired overnight to 1,800 degrees.
In 2009, when Luke first opened the garage, he had two materials: a box of clay and a stamp set. Passed down from Luke’s grandmother, this stamp set is more valuable to us than gold. This specific font is the basis for all of our inspirational bracelets and our logo. Our team uses the letters to hand-stamp every custom product as well as the molds for the bracelet jigs.
The fired bracelets, now in a “bisque” form, are washed in a brown underglaze. The team glazes them quickly so they turn the correct shade of brown.
Once the glaze is dry, the bracelets are lined up in a glaze wipe jig. The window of the jig allows only the glaze on the face of the bracelet to be wiped off.
6. SECOND FIRING
Finally, the bracelets are fired a second time to about 2,167 degrees. Once they cool they are ready for the Halyard team.
In sailing, a halyard is a rope that is used to hoist a sail or flag. At MudLOVE, the Halyard team keeps the wind in our sails by tying the elastic band to the clay piece. Often the sheer volume of bracelets that need to be tied is too high for our in-house team. So this team steps in and ties 200 to 500 bracelets at home as often as they are able.
Three days after you place your order, our shipping team assembles each product, slips it in a mailer and slaps on your address sticker. It's ready to join your story.
Check out this vintage MudLOVE video to see a bracelet come to life.
It takes a special mug to really wow us. As habitual coffee drinkers we wanted to throw a mug that would check all of our boxes. So over the years we’ve perfected our own mug design that’s beautiful, simple, and functional. Every aspect of the mug, from the lip to the stamp on the bottom, is thoughtfully crafted by our team of potters.
Every mug starts as a 1lb puck of clay. Our potters skillfully form these shapeless lumps into a perfect mug in about two minutes.
2. TRIM & HANDLE
Once the mug has dried, the team trims the foot of the mug to remove excess clay. Then, using watery clay called slip, they attach a band to the front of the mug and a handle to the side.
3. FIRST FIRING
At the end of the day, mugs are stacked into the bisque kiln for their first firing. This kiln fires to 1,888 degrees.
The glazing station is an alchemist’s workshop. Here, the team mixes each glaze so it will smoothly cover each mug. Mugs are only dipped twice: once on the inside and once on the outside.
5. SECOND FIRING
Glazed mugs are carefully tucked into the glaze kiln for their second firing. This firing is much hotter and reaches 2,167 degrees. The sandy texture of the unfired glaze becomes hard and smooth like glass thanks to the high temperatures.
A final, though optional, step is to apply a color decal to a mug. Decals are printed on a specialized printer and applied with water, like a fake tattoo! These mugs must go through a third firing to bake the decal right into the glaze and make it permanent.
At the end of four days the bottom of your mug is sanded to remove any rough edges and ready for shipment! The Shipping team carefully packages the mug so it doesn't break en route to your doorstep.
Check out this video for a quick overview of the making of a mug!
Originally conceived as part of our Makers Kit: Friendships Beads project in 2018, the Viona took on a vibrant life of its own. The Viona bracelet is an homage to Mrs. Viona Brown, an elementary art teacher in Indiana. This simple project inspired Luke to live his life as an artist and a maker, eventually leading to the creation of MudLOVE! When we discontinued the Makers Kit, the Viona stayed and is the perfect addition to any arm party.