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  • Writer's pictureBecki Henderson-Gow

Thinking about Mocha/Chocolate Diffusion

I woke this morning thinking about a coffee ad I saw last night on television. A big name coffee shop was advertising their holiday coffee drinks. Peppermint Mocha was one of the drinks that made me long to jump into my car, drive 35 minutes to the nearest town big enough to harbor one of these big chain coffee shops and purchase a drink with my favorite combination of flavors. Of course, I didn't drive to Boone, but opted for a cup of tea all the while dreaming about Peppermint Mocha coffee.

This morning I decided to look for a recipe so I could make my own Mocha peppermint coffee drink. Score! There are a lot of them out there and they are not that difficult to make. I decided to give it a try and here is the result.

It was really delicious! I wish I had the canned whipped cream so that I could make my photo more beautiful, but we only have non-dairy coconut topping in this house. I must admit, I don't miss having dairy because it tasted amazing and I now know I can make this for Bob in the future. I am really glad I went to the trouble to make this awesome coffee drink. If you would like the altered recipe I used to make my cup of peppermint mocha coffee, send me a note in the contact section of this blog. (I enabled the comments this time).

I discovered something pretty interesting while making this drink. This mug, from my latest batch of mocha diffusion mugs held the entire coffee recipe, leaving no left overs to slurp out of the pan and no skimpy amount in my coffee mug. Now that was providential, or was it? I have been making my mugs just a bit bigger lately with them coming out of the kiln measuring 5 inches in height. This is good news for those who like a big wallop of coffee in the morning.

So, what are the words mocha diffusion doing in the title of this blog? It has nothing to do with the drink inside the mug, but everything to do with the surface design at the bottom of the mug shown above. Mocha Diffusion is a chemical reaction created when an acid and an alkaline are placed together on the surface of the pottery during the leather-hard stage of the clay. The process is accomplished by using apple cider vinegar mixed with a colorant that is dropped or brushed onto the alkaline slip, showing as the lighter shade in the photo below.

When the two elements meet they spread and flow across the surface, creating a unique design that recalls elements of nature. It is not possible to control the direction of the acid mixture as it etches a distinctive pattern within the slip, so no two designs are ever alike.

The process of using mocha diffusion to decorate pottery originally began in England. The process migrated to North America and was frequently used by potters in the eastern parts of North America and Canada. The early potters using this process did not use the vinegar mixture in a dropper, but would create their mocha mixture by boiling tobacco leaves until they formed a thick sludge that they thinned, added a colorant and then applied to the pottery. This idea probably originated from earlier potters who chewed tobacco and would spit the juice onto their pots. I was surprised recently when a customer referred to my designs as tobacco spit decoration. This person knew their pottery history. I am not a tobacco user, so my method of vinegar and colorant which is not traditional, still creates an interesting design.

Another customer, recently told me that the designs on my pots seemed very "Alive." I tend to agree with her. When I look at each piece, I see a number of animal faces looking back at me. Other times I will see flowers in bloom, trees, rocks and water. It only takes a little imagination to see any number of things in the designs.

I love putting these designs on my work and have started putting them on creamers, sugar bowls and larger bowls, as well as the mugs and cereal bowls I have listed on my website. A number of these new pieces are available now at Alamance Arts Council in Graham, NC during their holiday sale and at Doe Ridge Pottery in Boone, NC. My intention is to have more pieces available on my website soon. If you can't wait until then, contact me here and I will see if I can accommodate your order. Hopefully, you will now head off to enjoy a delicious Peppermint Mocha coffee and enjoy the rest of your day!

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