These jugs are the artwork of Brandon Knott. He puts his talents and effort into each piece of unusual folk art.
Still, he doesn’t blame you if you call one of his “face mugs” — a pot-like jug with a sculpture of a face on the side — ugly jugs. He likes the term.
“As far as I know,” Knott says, “I’m the only one in our region that makes what I like to call ‘ugly jugs.’”
It’s a type of craft often used in Southern states such as Georgia and South Carolina.
According to Knott, the owner of “It’s Knott Pottery” studio in farmland west of Continental in Putnam County, these unique sculptures have an interesting history that spans different parts of the world.
“From what I understand, at first they started doing jugs like that in England to store acid to inform people that the contents of the jug were dangerous,” he said. “They would put a really ugly face on the side of it to discourage kids from getting into the contents. It also has a lot of history of African-American folk art.”
Knott offers a range of various clay mugs and ugly jugs, but he also creates specialized mugs made to resemble people’s family members. Perhaps his most interesting creation was the “politician mug,” which showcases a goofy grin on one side and the Devil’s face on the other.
Knott’s wares range from $5 to $250, depending on size, and he remains cognizant of his prices, due to the cost of clay and heating the electric kiln.
“I tried to price the items reasonably because of the area that I am from. If I lived in a more metropolitan area prices would be higher,” Knott said. “Now prices are slowly creeping out one at a time, and I would sell my mugs for $12 and now they’ve gone up to $20.”
An early love of pottery
Knott, a 1990 graduate of Defiance College with a degree in visual arts and ceramics, started his studio in 2000.
“I’ve loved pottery ever since I was a little kid,” Knott said. “I can remember drawing, painting and sculpting with plastic clay.”
Knott recalls a particular professor at Defiance College who both inspired and encouraged him.
“I thought it was really interesting how he could take a lump of nothing and turn it into something. He encouraged me to go and fool around with clay and have fun. And I have been doing it ever since,” Knott said.
After moving to Continental, Knott decided to build a pole barn and set up his studio there.
Knott’s passion for pottery led him to sell art all over the United States and produce 200 mugs for a local brewery, which has been his single largest order to date.
Despite his success, he emphasized the heart that goes into handmade, local art.
“For me, I feel the pottery is limitless, and when I sit down to do something there are so many possibilities,” he said.
Knott also wants to spread the message to support local art vendors.
“I would like to mention I am a big advocate for people to buy handmade stuff from our local artists and support the arts,” he said. “I feel that because that’s a sanctuary for a lot of people.”