Many residents will recognize Carmen Lutz’s hand-made, rustic mugs from local markets and stores, and if you have laid your eyes on her Potty Mouth line, you likely had a good chuckle.
“Nothing’s ever mean spirited, it’s all positive with a couple of F-bombs thrown in there,” she said with a laugh. “And people love it. They totally do a double take when they see me at the market. I just sit there and wait. And then they burst out laughing.”
Lutz created Funky Fungus Creations about five years ago. She has always had an interest in pottery, she said, and dabbled in when she lived in Calgary and then on Salt Spring Island. After she had her son, she left that part of her behind for a while.
Lutz and her son moved to the Parksville-Qualicum area about eight years ago, and after she joined the Arrowsmith Potters’ Guild, she fell in love with making pottery again. She began selling mugs, plates, bowls and other functional dishes.
At that time, Lutz, who is a certified Red Seal Chef, was cooking in restaurants. Feeling stressed and not loving her work, she decided three years ago to quit her job and devote her time to Funky Fungus Creations. Since mugs were her biggest seller, she focused on that.
“I bought a wheel and couple of kilns and started pumping them out,” she said. Lutz now makes about 75 mugs a week from her home studio.
Initially she concentrated on her fanciful mushroom design, and then she branched out to wildflowers and animals.
“It’s the flora and fauna of Vancouver Island,” she explained, citing orca whales, octopus, jellyfish, dandelions, blackberries, honeysuckles, wild roses, and nettle as some of her designs. “I went from 10 designs to about 50 plus.”
Lutz also applies text to the mugs. With her Potty Mouth line, she stamps on funny sayings, and on her other mugs, she puts phrases like ‘Stay Wild,’ ‘Think Big’ and ‘Make Waves’.
The shape of Lutz’ mugs have also evolved. Some of the first mugs she sold were fairly straight in form, she explained, and over time she settled on a large size with more of a rounded shape.
“I like to giggle about that,” she chuckled, describing the mugs as “curvy with a big bottom.”
Some of the other things that set her mugs apart from others is that she uses a clear glaze so you see the colour of the clay, the handles are very large, and the nature theme speaks to people, she explained. She said nature is something people have gotten so far away from, and her mugs often remind people of the wild things they love.
“It just brings them back,” she said. “The colour, the clay, and the hand-drawn designs. They are quite rustic and whimsical. They are not fine art, they’re not slick, they’re funky. And I think people like that as well.”
Lutz also does custom orders. It generally takes about two weeks to complete a set of mugs.
Find Funky Fungus Creations and the Potty Mouth line at The Other Side Artisan Collective in Coombs (where she sends her edgiest Potty Mouth stuff), Shades of Green in Parksville, The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach, Wild Woman Medicine Show in Nanaimo, Island Affair Giftware in Comox, Hornby Creative on Hornby Island and a number of other locations around Vancouver Island.
You can also follow the business on Instagram and Facebook.