Crystal Lake teacher’s after-school job is creating colorful disc golf art: ‘I’m like a mad scientist’

Mike Muggli creates colorful custom discs for popular social sport

Mike Muggli makes one of his unique flying discs on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at  his studios in his home in Crystal Lake.

When he’s not working as a music teacher at Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, Mike Muggli can be found in his basement that he transformed into an art studio creating custom designs on disc golf throwables.

His design process involves stencils, record turntables, plastic dyes, a food dehydrator and cake pans. Muggli’s creations include swirls in a rainbow of colors, flames and intricate line work. He is always trying new techniques, like using a turntable to spin the disc and create designs, creating stencils and mixing dyes with lotion or soap to get different effects.

“I’m like a mad scientist,” Muggli said.

Muggli of Crystal Lake has been playing disc golf for about 20 years, but started dyeing discs about two years ago when a friend suggested he should try it. Now he’s creating designs almost every day and frequently shows his process on Instagram livestreams.

Mike Muggli holds two of his unique flying discs he creates on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at his studios in his home in Crystal Lake.

“I had no idea it was a thing people actually did,” he said. “It’s a whole new world. It’s tons of stuff.”

Disc golf is a sport that has be steadily growing in popularity since its grassroots creation in the 1960s, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association. Much like golf, players try to hit a target in the fewest amount of throws. Popular disc golf courses in McHenry County include Lippold Park in Crystal Lake, Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area and Walnut Hollow in Cary and Indian Oaks Park in Marengo.

His discs are sold on and directly on his Instagram page at where he also takes custom commissions. He said he likes to share his ideas to spark inspiration in other artists to invent new techniques. Some of Muggli’s inventions include using spiral stencils and using a food dehydrator to heat the disc and speed up the dyeing process.

“There are no secrets,” he said. “Here is all of my knowledge; do with it what you will.”

Muggli struggles with market saturation of disc dyers to keep up with consistent sales in a “harsh market.” The community has grown since he first started two years ago when about 40 artists were on Now there are hundreds, he said.

“I like dyeing discs,” he said. “I want it to break even at the very least so I can keep doing it.”

That tough competition pushed Muggli to expand his artistry beyond throwable discs. He has experimented with dyeing Crocs and drum sets and tried phone cases and laptop cases, but acrylic plastics make it more difficult for the dye to penetrate.

“I’m a little goofy like that. I try to dye everything,” he said.

A disc Mike Muggli created featuring his intricate stencil work.

One of Muggli’s customers is disc golfer Ben Halter, who is a league leader for Trees Company Disc Golf Club in Cary. Muggli donates designed discs to Halter’s league as prizes each month.

“The work he does is phenomenal,” Halter said.

The league started in 2021 and quickly grew to 400 members on its Facebook group. The best part of the sport is creating a community filled with lifelong friendships, Halter said.

“It’s honestly one of the nicest communities of people you’ll ever meet in your life,” he said. “I really encourage anybody to get out there.”

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