Cold Mountain Pottery produces hand-made mugs from Montana clay. The fully operational studio hires people with disabilities. All employees participate in all aspectes of the studio. Each employee is given jobs that best fits their abilities, including forming and glazing the mugs, shipping and cleanup.

Pottery shop makes Montana-made mugs

Cold Mountain Pottery is a small shop in Billings, Mont. Within the complete studio, find custom handmade mugs made from Montana clay. An AWARE Inc. business, Cold Mountain hires people with disabilities. The pottery shop is located in AWARE’s Billings office just off of King Ave.

The Cold Mountain crew mass produces these Montana-made mugs, which are sold all over the United States. The custom mug designs are found in gift shops at national parks like Yellowstone or Glacier, local stores or even at events, like the Montana Folk Festival in Butte.

Pottery production

Joe Lucara and Larry Stanhope ready the clay in balls that will become a mug. Larry says he makes six bags during his daily shift.

Left, Joe Lucara and Larry Stanhope create clay balls that will become a mug. Larry says he makes six bags during his daily shift. See Larry’s Apostrophe feature story here.

A station is set up for each step of production. All employees help in the process, from forming and glazing the mugs to cleanup. Each employee is given a job that fits their ability. Watching the crew, you’ll notice each person becomes efficient at the job they’re assigned. It just takes a little practice in the beginning.

According to Wayne Small, one of the shop managers and a professional potter, more than 400 mugs are produced weekly during the busy season, about 200 during their less busy time of year.

A special kiln is set up in the backroom of the pottery shop. Small says it gets pretty warm (the kiln is heated to more than 2000° F) in the shop as it fires the mugs once a week. It takes 13 hours to fire the mugs and four hours to cool.

The mugs are for sale at $20 each. A special price is available for those who order at the bulk order rate. Once complete, the mugs are packaged and shipped to customers.

Find more about the mugs here.

Watch the slideshow that highlights the shop and its crew below:


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One thought on “Pottery shop makes Montana-made mugs

  1. Finally! I got to see behind the scene pics of Cold Mountain Pottery! Very interesting and beautiful work! Good Job! You must be so proud of your wonderful work!

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