In 2012 I had an idea for a new design which was to tell a story using a piece of china. I wanted to write the history of an organisation such as a school over an entire mug, incorporating every available space into the design! As someone who has always been interested in typography and history, it was going to be a new challenge to make so many words fit into the space – particularly as images were to be included as well. I have always liked the idea that different letters and words should be muddled up, some bigger and some smaller.

Firstly, I had to decide on how many and what images to use to support the text.  Having done this, the next step involved drawing up an individual template for each mug before starting to fill this in with the carefully chosen words and images. Once I completed the outline for the words, I would then fill in these outlines either with a colour of my choice or one which reflected the colours of the organisation, finally placing the images in strategic spots to highlight the words in the text; this was done with the help of Photoshop. These early designs are still some of my favourites, complete with their spelling mistakes and alterations, best described as working roughs, and they were to teach me how to refine my idea for a “Mug full of History”.

Initially the images and words were always my idea but, as the concept caught on with some of our clients, they started to send us the words and images to include in their wraps. In 2017, five years on, I still never start the design for a new mug full of history without first deciding on the images. These I carefully draw and, unlike when I first started, I work the lettering around these images.

In 2012 all the work was done on paper but in 2017, much of the design is completed using my computer and a Wacom pad. In essence this is an electronic sketch pad where the computer becomes a page of a sketch book and the Wacom pad and pen become the drawing tools. Initially I was very sceptical when I was presented with this new piece of kit to help with design work but the help it gives me to scan, enhance and manipulate images and lettering to fit the various spaces has been invaluable. Despite my early misgivings it is now one of my most valued tools and something I use every day.

On average, I like to fit about 30 words into a mug full of history and ideally 5 images work perfectly, but of course this varies slightly from client to client. The beauty of this design is that we are able to accommodate everybody’s wishes which makes each design completely unique to that organisation.

Now the idea has become very popular with our corporate clients and in particular, the educational sector.  We are currently doing approximately four of these bespoke and unique designs every month; as you can imagine many hours of design time, but each one a challenge and never boring! We now produce this idea on various sizes of English bone china mugs from our large 1 pint tankard, to our smaller, more delicate ¼ pint tankard. We believe to deliver a premium product to our customers we need to use the best china and so we work very closely with both print and china makers in Stoke-on-Trent – the heartlands of the English bone china Industry for over 200 years!

Our new school campaign is spreading the word even further afield as we send our china across “the pond” to the Eastern seaboard of the USA. A new challenge for those of us promoting all things British!

We have gained a reputation for exceptional customer service and we hope this will stand us in good stead as we seek new challenges and goals for the next 12 months.

Even though we have come such a long way in the development of this design, I can still remember the first time I saw it come to life as a Mug full of History for Wellington College – still among my favourites! If you think you might be interested in a mug full of history for your school why not contact us for more information?