The Craft of Tiki: Meet the Masterminds Behind Handcrafted Tiki Mugs

Tiki Mug | Shyripa Alexandr

In the world of bartending, drinking, and artistry, Tiki mug makers have carved a unique niche for themselves. These artists combine tradition, creativity, and craftsmanship to create pieces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The Tiki mug culture is rich, colorful, and deeply rooted in Polynesian history. Today, Tiki mug makers continue to keep the tradition alive while adding their unique flair to the craft.

The art of Tiki mug making is a testament to the skill and creativity of those who practice it. The intricacy of the designs, the vibrancy of the colors, and the sheer variety of styles demonstrate the artistry involved in this craft. Tiki mug makers are not just artisans; they are storytellers, weaving tales of Polynesian culture and mythology into their creations.

It’s important to note that Tiki mugs are more than just drinkware. Each piece is a work of art, a symbol of a rich cultural tradition, and a conversation starter. In this article, we delve into the captivating world of Tiki mug makers and explore the history, the artists, and the process behind these fascinating creations.

The History and Tradition of Tiki Mug Making

The tradition of Tiki mug making dates back to the mid-20th century, during the heyday of Tiki culture in the United States. Inspired by Polynesian mythology and culture, Tiki mugs were originally created to serve exotic cocktails in Tiki bars and restaurants. These establishments aimed to provide an escape from the everyday, with their tropical décor, exotic drinks, and unique atmosphere.

Tiki mug makers were initially anonymous artisans, crafting these now-iconic mugs behind the scenes. However, as the popularity of Tiki culture grew, so did the demand for these unique pieces of drinkware. Tiki mugs became collector’s items, and the artists behind them began to gain recognition.

While Tiki culture experienced a decline in the later part of the 20th century, it has seen a resurgence in recent years. Modern Tiki mug makers have embraced the tradition, infusing their work with their unique style and creativity. They continue to honor the Polynesian influences while pushing the boundaries of what a Tiki mug can be.

Profile: John Mulder and His Influence on Tiki Mug Making

John Mulder, a renowned figure in the Tiki mug making community, has significantly shaped the landscape of this unique art form. With a career spanning over two decades, Mulder’s work is both a tribute to the tradition of Tiki mug making and a testament to his unique creative vision.

Mulder’s foray into Tiki mug making began in the late 1990s, when he discovered a love for Polynesian Pop culture. Combining his artistic talent with his newfound passion, he began creating Tiki mugs under the brand name “Eekum Bookum.” His pieces, characterized by their intricate designs and high-quality craftsmanship, quickly gained popularity.

Mulder’s influence on Tiki mug making extends beyond his own creations. He has mentored numerous artists, sharing his knowledge and passion for the craft. His contributions to the Tiki community, coupled with his artistic prowess, have solidified his status as a stalwart of Tiki mug making.

Arizona Tiki Oasis 2022 Mug by John Mulder aka Eekum Bookum

Profile: Shag’s Contribution to Tiki Artistry

Josh Agle, popularly known by his pseudonym Shag, is another influential figure in the world of Tiki mug making. Known for his distinctive mid-century modern style, Shag’s work has left a lasting impact on Tiki artistry.

Shag’s Tiki mugs are instantly recognizable, featuring vibrant colors, whimsical designs, and a distinctly retro aesthetic. His pieces capture the spirit of the Tiki culture – fun, exotic, and slightly mysterious. They are more than just mugs; they are pieces of art that tell a story.

Beyond his Tiki mugs, Shag’s contribution to Tiki artistry extends to his paintings, prints, and other creations. His work has been instrumental in the resurgence of Tiki culture, inspiring a new generation of artists and collectors.

Profile: TikiPop and Their Modern Interpretations

Adding to the diverse tapestry of Tiki mug makers are the artists of TikiPop. Known for their bold, modern interpretations of traditional Tiki designs, TikiPop has made a name for themselves in the Tiki community.

TikiPop’s mugs are a fusion of tradition and modernity. Their designs retain the essence of Polynesian mythology while incorporating contemporary elements. The result is a collection of Tiki mugs that are both familiar and fresh.

TikiPop’s approach to Tiki mug making is reflective of the evolving nature of Tiki culture. They honor the past while looking to the future, creating pieces that are both nostalgic and forward-thinking.

The Role of TikiLand Trading Co. in Tiki Mug Industry

Mug of Mugs | TikiLand Trading Co.

TikiLand Trading Co. has played a pivotal role in the Tiki mug industry. As a platform for artists to showcase and sell their creations, TikiLand Trading Co. has helped bring Tiki mugs to a wider audience.

Beyond providing a marketplace for Tiki mugs, TikiLand Trading Co. has also been instrumental in promoting the artistry behind these pieces. They highlight the artists, their processes, and their stories, fostering a deeper appreciation for the craft.

TikiLand Trading Co.’s commitment to supporting Tiki mug makers and promoting Tiki culture has been integral in the resurgence of Tiki mug making. They continue to champion the craft, contributing to the vibrant and thriving Tiki community.

The Artistry of Tiki Mugs: From Tradition to Modernity

The artistry of Tiki mugs lies in the delicate balance between tradition and modernity. Tiki mug makers draw inspiration from Polynesian mythology and culture, infusing their creations with traditional symbols and motifs. At the same time, they push the boundaries of the craft, experimenting with new designs, techniques, and materials.

The process of creating a Tiki mug is a labor of love. Each piece is carefully handcrafted, with attention to every detail. The result is a piece of art that is as unique as the artist who created it.

The evolution of Tiki mugs, from traditional drinkware to collectible pieces of art, is a reflection of the creativity and innovation of Tiki mug makers. They continue to honor the roots of Tiki culture while exploring new avenues of artistic expression.

The Process: How Tiki Mugs are Made

The process of making a Tiki mug is a blend of traditional pottery techniques and modern artistry. It starts with an idea, which is then translated into a sketch. The sketch serves as the blueprint for the mug, guiding the artist through the subsequent steps of the process.

Next, the artist carves the design into a block of clay, creating the initial model for the mug. This model is then used to create a mold, which will be used to produce the final pieces. The mugs are cast using liquid clay, known as slip, which is poured into the mold.

Once the mugs have been cast, they are carefully removed from the mold and allowed to dry. The artist then refines the mugs, smoothing out any imperfections and adding any final details. The mugs are then fired in a kiln, which hardens the clay and prepares it for glazing.

The final step in the process is glazing. The artist applies a layer of glaze to the mugs, adding color and giving them a glossy finish. The mugs are then fired a second time to set the glaze. The result is a beautifully crafted Tiki mug, ready to be enjoyed by a lucky collector.

Collecting Tiki Mugs: A Modern Hobby

Collecting Tiki mugs has become a popular hobby, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. Collectors are drawn to the unique designs, the craftsmanship, and the cultural significance of these pieces.

For many collectors, Tiki mugs are more than just drinkware. They are pieces of art, each with its own story. Collecting Tiki mugs allows enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the rich history and vibrant culture of Polynesia, all while supporting the artists who keep this tradition alive.

The community of Tiki mug collectors is diverse and welcoming. From casual collectors to dedicated enthusiasts, the community shares a common love for Tiki culture and a deep appreciation for the artistry of Tiki mug making.

The Future of Tiki Mugs

The future of Tiki mugs is bright, with a new generation of artists and collectors continuing to fuel the resurgence of Tiki culture. As long as there are people who appreciate the artistry, the craftsmanship, and the cultural significance of these pieces, the tradition of Tiki mug making will continue to thrive.

The Tiki mug makers of today are not just creating drinkware; they are crafting pieces of art, preserving a cultural tradition, and contributing to a vibrant community. They are the custodians of a unique art form, carrying it forward into the future.

So, whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of Tiki, consider supporting these artists and their craft. Explore the rich and diverse world of Tiki mug making, and you might just find a new passion.