Nova Scotia

This Dartmouth potter promotes body positivity with her very popular 'boob mugs'

Olivia McDonald, the owner of The Bitter Blonde Pottery, is promoting body positivity and self-love by creating one-of-a-kind mugs that celebrate female bodies.

Olivia McDonald's clay creations comes in all shapes and sizes

Olivia McDonald's 'boob mugs' started out as a side hustle, and she says she never expected her pottery work to become a full-time job. (Erin MacInnis/CBC)

A potter in Dartmouth, N.S., is promoting body positivity and self-love by creating one-of-a-kind mugs that celebrate female bodies.

Olivia McDonald calls them her "boob mugs," and the popular clay creations come in all shapes and sizes, some with stretch marks, piercings and tattoos. 

"Using the female form as a subject is kind of my way of honouring it and being able to show my appreciation for all those women in my life who have supported me and helped me get to where I am today," she told CBC Radio's Information Morning on International Women's Day.

A collection of McDonald's 'boob mugs.' McDonald hopes to empower people to celebrate and love their bodies. (Erin MacInnis/CBC)

McDonald started out making the mugs in her spare time, while working a job in pottery production during the day. But before long, they were selling out online within a matter of minutes.

It meant she could become a full-time, self-employed potter, which allowed her to open her own studio in January 2021. She sells her mugs online under The Bitter Blonde Pottery.

"The support I have from my community online and just the community within the Maritimes really is overwhelming," said McDonald, who is originally from P.E.I. and studied at NSCAD University in Halifax.

She's created mugs to celebrate Pride and show support for the transgender community, as well as mastectomy mugs to raise awareness about breast cancer. She also made a mug for a close friend who had undergone top surgery.

It's very rewarding, McDonald said, to see customers, friends and family members embrace body positivity in this way.

"I think because they are so unique and they represent all our unique bodies and support the idea that the female form is beautiful and it's something to be respected and treated delicately, just like this piece of pottery," McDonald said.

When she sits down at her pottery wheel, she likes to imagine the person who will someday pick out the mug that looks just like them. 

"When I put the stretch marks on them, I kind of envision like a mother who can now enjoy her coffee and remember those stretch marks as kind of a representation of her journey of bringing humans into this world," McDonald said. "They're not to be looked at with shame. They're beautiful."

Artist Olivia McDonald recently set up shop in the basement of her Dartmouth home. That's where she's crafting clay mugs inspired by bodies of all shapes and sizes. CBC's Erin MacInnis paid her a visit to see how she makes her popular 'boob mugs.'

She also sells penis mugs and said she hopes to continue to make art that represents everyone's bodies "in a way that feels respected and enjoyed."

"I wouldn't want to be doing anything else," McDonald said.

"I've definitely gone through my own struggles of self-love and my journey with just accepting my own body, and this has been, even for myself, like, incredibly healing." 

McDonald crafts clay mugs inspired by bodies of all shapes and sizes. (Eric MacInnis/CBC)

With files from Erin MacInnis and CBC Radio's Information Morning