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Exclusive: Preview Portland Tiki Bar Rhum's Handmade Skull Mugs

Local artists Meg K. Walsh and Christine Caswell are crafting clay cups for the bar.

Restaurateurs Jason Loring, Mike Fraser, and Nat Towl's underground Tiki bar Rhum is sourcing locally in an unexpected way: its signature Tiki mugs will be handmade by local artists Meg K. Walsh and Christine Caswell. The hefty, skull-adorned (and in some cases, skull-shaped) clay drinking vessels come in a variety of shapes and sizes that are being patterned with stamps — including one of Caswell's teeth. The vessels tap into the "pure tropical fantasy and a bit of escapism" as well as the "darker aesthetic of rum runners" during Maine prohibition, the women told Eater.

The initial run will be around 200, and each mug represents dozens of hours of active work and kiln time; the artists "anticipate it will take us about four weeks for the two of us to complete from start to finish." Lest guests try to pocket the unique cups — as is so often the case at bars with cool glassware — a display case with prices will encourage customers to purchase the precious pottery instead.

This isn't the first time Walsh and Caswell, who run the Bayside Clay Center at East Bayside collective Running With Scissors, have worked with hot new restaurants: Caswell makes some of the bowls, plates, and casuelas for Central Provisions, while Walsh made vases for Local 188 and Sonny's, a batch of pocket flasks as a Kickstarter reward for The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box, and custom beer steins for Allagash Brewing Company. Walsh said it's been great working on the Rhum project together, particularly as the demand has both forced and allowed her and Caswell to refine their process and purchase new equipment to turn out much higher quantities than they normally produce. Expect to get your hands on the results in mid- to late January.