When I started making pet mugs someone asked, why not just take a photo of their pet to a store and have it printed on a mug? The thing is: it looks generic. It doesn’t capture the essence of someone’s pet. I like what I do because I try to capture what makes our loved ones special. I don’t just make a mug with Fido on it. I make a Fido mug.

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I approach my work as a sculptor rather than a potter. I carve the pet’s image in reverse to create a mold that I use to hand-build the mug. This gives every mug a slightly different look. It’s just in the small details but everything has an organic feel to it. I also make an effort to learn about the personality of the animal, to get stories from their loved ones. The character and history of someone’s pet goes into the image.

I’m inspired by the relationships people have with animals in their lives. It’s very satisfying work. My little mugs end up meaning a great deal to their owners. Animals are part of our families and it’s wonderful to take part in celebrating that. I get the added benefit of always working on something new everyday, which is critical to my sanity as an artist.

More info: Etsy | hadleyclay.com

The Rustyrodas mug

Stages of the process

The Toby_LittleDude mug

Black dachshund


Hand-painting the Ramsey Bluestaffy mug

Franklin, the dapper dog


Wendy x2


Kuda KudathePup on edge


Beautiful Husky, Nahla

A mug for Bentley_the_poodle

A memorial mug to honor this sweet little prince, Carson