The artist makes these ceramic cups with a special gift hidden at the side. We spoke to Knippa, and got to know a little about her inspiration for making these cups.

Knippa finds inspiration for her whimsical creations in the beauty of her surroundings in Maine. “Almost all of my favorite memories have something to do with nature—whether it is a smell, a scene, an animal, or a feeling,” she tells My Modern Met. “So if I need ideas or inspiration, I get outside, and my mind just automatically starts thinking about how to capture and convey the colors and creatures that surround me. From there I take those ideas into the studio and start making.” Her portfolio includes a wide variety of ceramics—including vases, dishes, earrings, and other knickknacks—but she is best known for her coffee mugs.

“Mugs are my absolute favorite to make,” Kippa admits, “as they are a familiar and tactile object that most of us use every day—so it might as well be a piece of art that brings joy!” Before she places animals inside the sides of the mugs, the ceramic artist spends considerable time creating interesting textures so that the cups are satisfying to touch. Additionally, these textures complement the depicted animal’s natural environment. So, Knippa’s sleeping foxes appear in mugs with ridged or patterned ceramic—similar to grass and stone. Likewise, the whale mug is displayed on a smooth, ocean-blue exterior. She explains, “Nestling little animals into the side of the mug into a cozy little den or nook brings the mug to life and tells a story.”

Self-taught artist Brooke Knippa of AP Curiosities makes charming handmade coffee mugs with a surprise.

She places miniature painted sculptures of animals inside a nook on the side of each cup.