It wouldn’t surprise anybody to spot a gnome or mushroom figurine in a garden.

But some things don’t seem to belong there as much: a sloth, dragon, polar bear or hippo wearing sneakers.

When browsing the Etsy shop called Mountain Mudworks, run by Logan Meyer and Sharie Dodge, expect to see the quirky and unexpected.

The Colorado Springs-based husband and wife team make ceramics in the form of a wide range of animals, realistic and not, and unique objects to add whimsy to indoor or outdoor gardens.

These ceramics are also functional, as they’re handcrafted to serve as planters or pots or watering spikes.

A recent favorite of Dodge’s is a watering spike in the shape of a tiny toilet. It’s available in white, pink, teal and purple.

“I just think the toilet is hilarious,” she said. “It just makes me giggle every time I see it.”

Like the other watering spikes they sell, this one comes with instructions online: “It slowly disperses water into the soil to help keep your plant well hydrated between waterings. Just fill the reservoir while watering your plant and the ceramic spike will allow the water to slowly seep through to the soil for several days.”

Plant lovers from all over the country get a kick out of the couple’s creations, at least according to the Etsy shop.

Mountain Mudworks has a whopping 3,450 sales on Etsy from the last two years. Of the 900 rave reviews online, people refer to their items as “adorable” and “conversation pieces.” Another customer wrote, “This fills me with so much joy Marie Kondo is shaking.”

Their products can also be found at several area garden centers such as Summerland Gardens, The Living Room and Phelan Gardens.

The success has been a happy accident for Dodge and Meyer, who are relatively new to plant loving and ceramic making.

The couple tend to more than 50 plants at home, which they describe as a “gradual addiction.”

In late 2018, they noticed a need for pots to hold their growing number of plants. Shopping around, Dodge said everything she found was “uninspired and overpriced.”

She tells the origin story in an “Our Story” section on Etsy. “So, we did what we often do in these situations,” she wrote, “find a way to create what we were searching for.”

She called in some help from her uncle, Lex, who she calls a “seasoned creator” and a “character.” Along with stints as a teacher, engineer, hot rod restorer and military veteran, Lex is an experienced ceramicist. He taught Dodge and Meyer the ropes.

He opened up his Franktown workshop to them, where there’s everything needed to make ceramics. That included Lex’s stunningly large collection of vintage molds. Meyer estimates there’s something like 70,000 molds on the shelves.

“There’s a little bit of everything if you dig far enough,” he said. “There are molds for mugs shaped like peanuts, big signs, woodland creatures.”

That means Dodge and Meyer have lots of options when deciding what kinds of products to make for Mountain Mudworks.

They pick things that fit with that quirky style seen on Etsy. And sometimes they have to be innovative when transforming, say, a mold of salt and pepper shakers shaped liked kittens into a watering spike shaped like kittens.

Recently, the couple has started outfitting their garage into a workshop, where they paint products and set them up for shipping. Now that Mountain Mudworks sees several orders come in each day, there’s plenty to do.

“It just spiraled out of control and grew into its own small business,” said Meyer, who quit his other job in June 2020 to focus on ceramics. “It’s a fun, creative outlet and it’s fun that we can also turn into a living.”

Dodge balances the business while keeping her job as an office manager at the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

“She kind of has two full-time jobs,” says her husband.

They say Mountain Mudworks has tapped into a niche within the world of ceramics.

“I think making new watering spikes out of old molds is uncommon to say the least,” Dodge said.

It helps that the items come in uncommon shapes.

“People’s gardens are often an expression of themselves,” Meyer said. “People who are fun and lighthearted like to express that in their garden.”

He and Dodge feel that way about their indoor garden area. They recently made a ceramic bathtub to go next to a ceramic toilet in hopes of making a restroom-themed fairy garden.

“I love that it’s functional and that it’s art,” Dodge said. “And it’s adding some character and some flair.”

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