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Handbuilding Techniques

Handbuilding may be an ancient pottery making technique, but there is no shortage of exciting work being created today by the hands of ceramic artists. Here, we’ll share with you some of the most inventive handbuilt work out there and give step-by-step instruction from the artists making it. Handbuilding projects, from the simple coil built pot to complex slab built sculpture, are covered in detail. Peruse through our archive of articles and videos on handbuilding techniques, whether you want to brush up on a process or start off in a new direction. And, if you haven't already, be sure download your free copy of our Five Great Handbuilding Techniques: How to Make Pottery Using the Pinch, Coil and Slab Methods for some handbuilding project ideas.


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Ribbing and Stretching Lively Marks into Thrown and Altered Pottery

Posted On February 27, 2015 2 Comments
Nick Joerling likes to make pots that are “active in the mind and imagination.” He achieves this goal by making gestural marks with simple tools on the wheel and then stretching and bending the clay to enhance those marks. In today’s post, an excerpt from his video Gesture and Form: Throwing and Handbuilding, I have… Read More »
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How to Use the Broomstick Method to Make a Vase

Posted On February 23, 2015 7 Comments

I keep a lot of things in my studio that I think may one day be useful for texture or as a tool of some sort. I also cannot bring myself to throw any kind of wood in the garbage. I have a scrap collection that would be the envy of many a woodchuck. The other day, these two passions (let’s just call them passions for now) came together in a very useful way. I ran out to the garage and gathered every single dowel scrap I had and transfered them to the studio, thereby fulfilling both obsessive habits (okay, let’s call them what they really are). The reason I did this was because I watched the DVD Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons. He demonstrated a method for making cylinders that employed these dowels, and then went on to explore wonderful surface inlay and texture treatments that really got me excited about handbuilding again. And I got to use some of my scrap wood!  — Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily

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How to Make a Prototype for a Decorative Sprig Mold

Posted On February 13, 2015 0 Comments

Most people think of sprig molds as press-molded decorative elements that are affixed to work, but Blair Clemo uses sprigs as part of his construction process. Blair started off working this way by experimenting with sprig molds he made from found objects. Then he decided to make his own custom sprigs.

 

In this clip from his new video Simply Ornate: Handbuilding and Wheel Throwing with Press Molds, Blair shares how he makes these fairly complex-looking sprigs with a process that is actually quite simple. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

 

PS. To see how Blair uses these strip sprig molds, check out this video!

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Handbuilding Video: How to Make a Textured Tripod Pot with Soft Slabs

Posted On February 6, 2015 43 Comments

If you’ve been stuck in the studio lately, the latest DVD in our Ceramic Arts Daily Presents DVD series might be the ticket to get you unstuck. In today’s excerpt from What if? Explorations with Texture and Soft Slabs, Sandi Pierantozzi demonstrates making a tripod pot, a simple, yet elegant, vessel.

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How to Make a Jar With Press-Molded Decorative Strips and Wheel Thrown Parts

Posted On January 30, 2015 8 Comments

A. Blair Clemo has some of the most interesting pottery making techniques I have seen. His process involves press molds, coil building, wheel throwing, sprig molds and more. Though it looks fairly complex, it’s really not when you break it down.

In today’s clip, an excerpt from his brand-spanking-new video Simply Ornate: Handbuilding and Wheel Throwing with Press Molds, Blair shows one of the ways he combines wheel thrown parts with custom press-molded decorative strips to make a sweet jar. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Make Great Slump-Molded Plates with A Cheap Craft Store Tool

Posted On January 26, 2015 5 Comments

Want to make quick work of multiple, handbuilt plate forms? Try Styrofoam rings found in most craft supply stores (for wreath making), They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to store.

In today’s post, an excerpt from the February 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Nancy Gallagher explains this great plate-making system. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Slab Build a Simple Darted Cup

Posted On January 23, 2015 3 Comments

After many years of just throwing, I have been doing more and more handbuilding. Part of the reason for is that we made a video with Liz Zlot Summerfield. Not only is it fun to watch the facile way Liz manipulates clay, but her explanations of her processes are excellent. Not to mention the work itself!

 

In today’s clip, an excerpt from her video Handbuilt Forms with Soft Slabs, Liz shows how to handbuild a simple darted cup with a foot that I absolutely love (and which I jokingly refer to as “the foot that changed my life.”) – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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A Sea of 888,246 Bright Red Ceramic Poppies Commemorates Lives Lost at War

Posted On January 19, 2015 2 Comments

The Tower of London’s dry moat was recently flooded again, but not with water. This time it was with 888,246 ceramic poppies. Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, with the help of countless volunteers, created the epic installation commemorating those who served and perished in World War One.

 

For more about this fascinating and moving project, have a look at this excerpt from the February 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly by Holly Goring. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Guidelines for Altering Straight-Sided Cylinders

Posted On January 7, 2015 2 Comments

Darting pots is yet another thing on my long list of to-dos in the studio. I love the way simple darts can really change the look of a piece and give it personality. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January/February 2015 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Deb Schwartzkopf provides some tips for altering straight-sided cylinders. Her handy-dandy illustration of what forms are created by different darts is really helpful in visualizing the final result. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Heating and Stretching Slabs to Create Organic Texture

Posted On December 8, 2014 2 Comments

Most potters do their very best to avoid cracks in their work. But some deliberately try to create cracking, and the results can be gorgeous. In today’s post, an excerpt from our new Ceramic Arts Handbook Surface Decoration Techniques, Eric Seritella explains how he creates beautifully textured trays by heating and stretching rough slabs of clay. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.