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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.


How to Make a Lovely Folded Vase with a Clay Slab

Posted On October 16, 2015 3 Comments
Creating a Unique Slab Built Pottery Vase Jan McKeachie-Johnston’s folded vase form is her translation of a Native American birch bark basket into clay. To make it, she uses one clay slab and a template she developed through experimentation.   In today’s video clip, an excerpt from her new video In the Studio with Randy… Read More »

Pottery Video! Tips for Strong Joints on Slab Built Pottery

Posted On October 9, 2015 16 Comments

I am happy to announce that the lovely Lisa Naples’s DVD Flat to Functional: Handbuilding and Slip Decorating, is making its debut to the world today. Lisa is a consummate teacher with a gift for explaining how her hands manipulate the clay. In today’s clip, I’ve gathered a couple of particularly good little nuggets of information on making your slab built joints super strong. Enjoy! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


How to Make Interestingly Shaped Pots with Slump Molds

Posted On October 7, 2015 3 Comments

Slump molds are great tools in handbuilding because they allow you to dream up whatever shape you want and allow you to repeat it many times. They can be made from a wide variety of materials – from found objects to plaster. Plywood is Joe Singewald’s slump mold material of choice. In today’s post, he explains how he uses plywood to make his signature clover bowls.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Put Your Best Foot Forward: Suze Lindsay Shares Two Techniques for Handbuilt Feet

Posted On October 5, 2015 8 Comments

Historically, I have been more of a thrower than a handbuilder. I love handbuilt pots, but haven’t quite gotten there with my handbuilding. One thing I have struggled with is coming up with attractive feet on slabbuilt vessels and platters. But Suze Lindsay’s new DVD gave me some good ideas to play with. In today’s video, Suze shares a couple of great little techniques for added feet. Have a look! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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From Slab to Grab: Creating Textured Handles

Posted On September 23, 2015 9 Comments

Texture in clay can be addictive. Who doesn’t love pressing objects into a piece of soft clay? And why stop at the handles? As Annie Chrietzberg demonstrates in today’s post, textured slab handles are a great way to carry texture throughout a piece – plus they are less messy than pulled handles and can provide instant gratification. Have a look!



How to Add Visual and Structural Strength to a Form with Coils

Posted On September 16, 2015 1 Comment
If you’re looking to add a striking graphic quality to your pots, you’ll enjoy today’s post. Today, Elisa Helland-Hansen explains how she adorns her pots with coils for a simple and strong impact. Not only do these pieces have an assertive visual and tactile sense, the coils also add to their physical strength! -Jennifer Harnetty,… Read More »

Upcycled Utensils: Adding Handmade Handles to Out-of-Commission Kitchen Tools

Posted On September 9, 2015 4 Comments

As clay artists, we’ve all upcycled old, out-of-use objects into useful tool studio tools (think credit card rib). But I had never thought about it in terms of using my clay work to help breathe new life into an old object until I saw Kristin Pavelka’s article in the November/December 2012 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated. Kristin finds antique kitchen utensils with broken handles, and replaces the broken handles with gorgeous handmade handles. In today’s post, I have excerpted a bit from the article. 



How to Make a Cool Textured Handbuilt Tray from One Slab of Clay

Posted On September 7, 2015 10 Comments

Looking at the finished product of this project, it is obvious that it was slab built, but maybe not so obvious that it was made from just one slab. I would have guessed that the handles were added. But it is just a one-slab project. In today’s post, an excerpt from the July/August 2013 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Glenn Woods explains this fun project. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Sketching in Clay to Come up With Beautiful and Interesting Handbuilt Forms

Posted On September 4, 2015 11 Comments
When learning to hand build, one of the biggest challenges can be staring at that slab or lump of clay and envisioning an interesting form. That “blank canvas” can be pretty intimidating. So I absolutely love the “clay sketching” exercise Liz Zlot Summerfield shares in her DVD Handbuilt Forms with Soft Slabs: Developing Ideas, Sketches,… Read More »

Lana Wilson Shares a Technique for Funky Handbuilt Feet and Lids

Posted On August 7, 2015 4 Comments
If you’re familiar with Lana Wilson’s work, you know that she comes up with some of the most imaginative ways to make it. Following the clay’s lead, she makes forms with life and spunk.   In today’s post, an excerpt from her video Handbuilding with Color and Texture, she shares her technique for making the… Read More »