Made at UW-Stout mugs designed to delight visitors

More than 400 created for attendees at two conferences
UW-Stout student Katheryn Lund shapes a Made at UW-Stout mug. Mugs are being given to UW-Stout visitors of two conferences and industry and educational partners./UW-Stout photo by Chris Cooper
July 15, 2019

University of Wisconsin-Stout is known for its hands-on learning, so giving two groups of conference attendees a homemade gift seemed like a natural fit.

Alexandre Marble pours the porcelain for the Made at UW-Stout mugs.Those who attended the Polytechnic Summit and will attend the WiSys’ WSTS two-day symposium Monday, July 22, and Tuesday, July 23, had and will have the chance to take home a Made at UW-Stout mug created by students and design Professor Jennifer Astwood. The mugs each carry the Made at UW-Stout logo.

About 450 mugs will be given out to industry and educational partners. Mugs were made last semester and this summer.

For the Polytechnic Summit, the mugs were in a package created by the packaging department with designs by graphics students. Mugs for the summit were made by Astwood with industrial design students Obadiah Nyabuto, junior, Maple Grove, Minn.; Isabel Case, junior, Hartland; and Angela Hastings, junior, Prescott. The one for the WiSys conference were made by Astwood with industrial design students Katheryn Lund, sophomore, Greenland; and Alexandre Marble, junior, Minneapolis.

“It’s great public relations,” Astwood said of the mugs. “It’s important to show industry partners what we are creating.”

The mug project allowed students to learn a manufacturing process.

Chuck Bomar, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management, said the mugs are symbolic of a gift commonly given with logos, but these are ones people will want to keep and use.

“Made at UW-Stout is an effort to express and share the creativity of students and faculty with all of our partners and to show the uniqueness of our campus with a locally produced gift,” Bomar said. “The mugs are nice, and because we opened it up to students, we are able to display a wide array of artistic talent, not only with the industrial designers but packaging students and students from the graphics programs as well. Our goal is to have a number of these types of products produced to promote numerous programs on campus.”

The mugs were made using a slip cast process, Astwood said. A form was created, and then a mold was created from that form. Liquid porcelain was poured into the mold, and excess liquid then was poured out of the mold. After the porcelain dried, the mug was pulled from the mold and fired in a kiln. The mugs were then glazed and fired in the kiln again. A third firing occurred to adhere the Made at UW-Stout decal to the mug. A total of 15 forms were used to create different styles of mugs.

Students Angela Hastings, Obadiah Nyabuto and Isabel Case prep mug designs to make molds.

The designers could choose the colors for the mugs and where to place the logo, Astwood said. “For the Polytechnic Summit, a lot of them were white or Stout blue,” she noted. “In the summer we experimented more with different colors.

“It was a great project for students,” Astwood said. “They were able to learn a new manufacturing process. This is a manufacturing process used at Kohler for toilets and sinks. They have been able to see a design in their head and see it become a reality. A lot of times in industrial design classes we don’t create actual products that we can make and can give to someone.”

The Chancellor’s Office, Provost’s Office and CSTEMM helped cover the cost of making the mugs, including materials.

More Made at UW-Stout mugs

Astwood said the project has taught her how to get a number of mugs done with time constraints. She also enjoyed working with the students, bouncing ideas off each other and designing and decorating the mugs.

When she was creating the mugs, she always kept in mind what felt good in the hand was utilitarian as well as beautiful. “We wanted something that would create surprise and a delight to look at and they would want to use every day,” Astwood said. “They got to keep a cup from a university that makes things and cares to make special things.”



Alexandre Marble pours the porcelain for the Made at UW-Stout mugs.

The mug project gave students the opportunity to learn a new manufacturing process.

Katheryn Lund, Alexandre Marble and design Professor Jennifer Astwood prepare forms to make the Made at UW-Stout mugs.

Mugs were designed not only for beauty but functionality.

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