I’ve been fortunate enough to work on several recent custom product concepts for a famous US auto insurance company. When Kevin Silver came across an opportunity to present promotional ideas, we sat down one day to brainstorm on some cool concepts.  They were specifically looking for a custom ceramic coffee mug that incorporated their famous gecko.

I sketched some designs of how I envisioned the gecko to be climbing the edge of the coffee mug.  I also went out searching for the perfect coffee mug shape and found a polka dotted mug at Pier 1 Imports. I bought it, brought it home, sawed off the original handle, sanded the leftover handle nubs and painted it white.

At this point we had a perfect starting point from where we could start sculpting our gecko onto the mug.  I sent the mug without a handle down to Jason Peltz in Florida.  Jason is one of our design collaborators here at The Product Farm and he is truly an amazing sculpture artist with nearly twenty years of experience working for companies such as Jim Henson, Disney and McFarlane.  The above picture shows Jason’s first steps when sculpting the gecko onto the mug.

Above you can see the finished clay model, complete with arms, legs and a tail.  It was truly amazing to see my idea come to life through Jason’s skillful sculpting.

The clay model was initially approved by our client and Jason baked it in his oven to permanently adhere it to the ceramic mug.  He then  painted the mug per strict color guidelines.  It was then sent to the clients headquarters in Maryland where the marketing team presented it to the brand managers for approval.

Once the meeting was over, they had changed their mind.  Their concern was how the gecko was climbing the mug and they asked us to present a few new options on how we could redesign the mug to avoid this.  I quickly sketched a new drawing for approval where the Gecko’s tail became the handle and the gecko himself was more of a 3D relief.   They liked the concept and Jason started a new clay model.

Jason finished the new clay model and we sent some pictures for approval.  They loved it!

After approval, Jason once again baked, painted and sent it out for the final hand sample approval.  They were very happy with the result and we sent the sample to our factory in China where they initiated pre-production. The below image shows the final ceramic mug, hand painted and protected by a glossy finish.