Get To Know Local Potter and Professor: Liz James

This year we are so happy to announce handmade Duluth Winter Village mugs!

We met with Liz James to work on this project, she gave us different samples and we all agreed on one! It was a tough job, we poured hot beverages (like Mike and Jen’s Cocoa), cold beverages (like Bent Paddle Cold Press) and held the mugs with and without mittens on to make sure we were selecting the perfect Duluth Winter Village mug!

If you are like us…you probably like to know who makes the products you buy. Seeing the joy through the interaction of customer and small business owner is one of the reasons we started working on the Duluth Winter Village! Buying from these businesses is a big deal to the people behind the products. These business owners love Duluth, they love our community and love to provide quality and unique goods.

We had Sharon of Three Irish Girls come along to visit Liz while she was working on a large batch of our mugs. Scroll down to see Liz working and learn more about her and the process that made these awesome mugs (spoiler there are 12 steps per mug!).

1. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? 
I tell people I am from the West because I was born in
Montana, lived in California and Nevada during my formative
years and finally settling in Idaho where I raised my family. I
relocated to Duluth nine years ago when I accepted a teaching
position at UMD.

2. How long have you been doing this?
Longer than I want to admit, let’s say the majority of my life.
3. If not answered already, what led you to pottery? 
I have always been involved in the arts and was drawn to clay
my freshman year of college. I just followed the clay footprints
and happily ended up in the ceramic studio.
4. What is your favorite part of what you do?
I actually love all aspects of working with clay: from the
inception to the moment when the work comes out of the kiln
which, I’m happy to share, still feels like Christmas!

5. Tell us about the mugs you made for the Duluth Winter Village.
Could you describe the process (step-by- step)?
1. Design the prototype, which was inspired from living in the
2. Mix and wedge the clay.
3. Throw (on a potter’s wheel) the ball of clay and create the
shape of the glogg mug.
4. When the clay is leather hard, stamp the logo on the vessel
and establish the foot on the form.
5. Let dry till there is no visible moisture and bisque fire the
6. After the bisque firing add an oxide wash to the stamp
impression to enhance the imagery.
7. Wax the stamp logo and the foot of the glogg mug to resist
the glazes.
8. Glaze the form with a base glaze and then add multiple
glazes to the surface (sometimes up to four additional
9. Load and fire in the gas reduction kiln.

10. Unload and check the glogg mugs for minor imperfections
etc. though by nature of the process variations lend
character to the artwork.
11. Sand/smooth the bottoms of the forms.
12.Pack for pick up and await feedback from happy users.
6. What do you love about teaching?
There is nothing more wonderful than to see a student
comfortably master the material and confidently execute an

7. What is your favorite local Duluth spot?
This is like asking who is your favorite child! We are so
fortunate to have such a wealth of local options here in Duluth.
Given a choice I try to support the local establishments.
8. Where can we find your work?
I am represented in several galleries out west but interested individuals locally can contact me here.
9. Where can we follow along to see your work?