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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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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.

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A Smart Way to Center a Foot on a Square Slab Plate

Posted On December 1, 2014 6 Comments

Slab-built plates seem like a pretty simple endeavor, but it can be challenging to get the feet just right. Coil feet often have that pesky bump where the coil is joined and if you throw a foot on a slab plate, you can often have problems with cracking. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January/February 2014 Pottery Making Illustrated, my good pal Liz Zlot Summerfield shares her nifty technique for getting a slab foot just right.

ps. Stay tuned for Liz’s how-to video, due out in the Spring of 2014!

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Pottery Video of the Week: How to Make Three Cool Handbuilt Handles with Coils and Slabs

Posted On November 14, 2014 8 Comments

Handles can be the bane of a potters existence – at least they are for me a lot of the time. So I am always happy when I learn new ways of approaching them. Today, in an excerpt from Gail Kendall’s new DVD Slab and Coil Building (which debuts today in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!) Gail shows us three great handle techniques. This DVD was so fun to watch because Gail has such a good sense of what her material can and cannot do. She definitely has me inspired to try her slab/coil techniques – and this clip in particular has cured my “handle block.” 

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Puffy Pots: How to Use Double Walled Construction to Give Your Pottery Volume

Posted On October 6, 2014 13 Comments

Chris Pickett’s puffy forms reference stuffed
animals and inflatable toys and the visible seams give the work a casual
and relaxed feel. Chris creates his inflated forms through
double walled construction using slump molds and paper patterns. In
today’s post, Chris takes us through this fun way of working.

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How to Make a Comfortable Slab-Built Handle

Posted On October 3, 2014 4 Comments

In today’s post, Lisa Naples shares her technique for making a slab-built handle for a cream pitcher. I love this handle because it is an interesting shape that complements her slab-built pitcher really well, and because, just by looking at it, you can tell it is comfortable. Have a look! Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Create an Ornamental Yet Functional Handle

Posted On September 26, 2014 0 Comments

Handles are something I struggled with for a long time. Once I started to get my handles the way I wanted, I realized that my pieces as a whole looked better. Another example of how paying attention to all the details in a piece can make a world of difference.

 

In today’s video, Martha Grover shows how she “fancys” up a pulled handle to make it look perfect (and function well) on one of her elegant butter boxes. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Make Sophisticated Pottery Forms Using the Most Basic of Tools

Posted On September 17, 2014 1 Comment

The pinch pot is the most elemental of pottery forms requiring simply one’s hands and a lump of clay. Because of this, it is often the first technique most of us learn when introduced to clay. But that doesn’t mean it is merely a beginner technique. Many artists use pinching techniques to make sophisticated or complex forms. Lily Zuckerman makes beautiful vessels starting from a solid lump of clay, with no clay added and very little cut away. In today’s post, she explains her process. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Dissecting a Found Form to Come Up With Patterns for Handbuilding

Posted On September 12, 2014 3 Comments

If you love slab building, but have trouble figuring out how to flat slab to volumetric form, today’s video clip from Liz Zlot Summerfield might help solve the mystery. In this clip, an excerpt from her DVD Handbuilt Forms with Soft Slabs, Liz shows how to take a simple paper cup and turn it into a pattern for a handbuilt juice cup.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Tips for Using Commercial Sprigs to Embellish Handmade Pottery

Posted On August 27, 2014 0 Comments

Many studio potters consider it cheating to use commercial products (molds, glazes, etc) in their work, but to me, nothing should be off limits! Kate Maury agrees and makes gorgeous functional work that looks more like sculpture. She does this using commercially made sprigs and clay sprigs made from found objects. In today’s post, she shares tips for working with, as well as storing, these sprigs. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

PS: To see Kate’s process for making a candle holder using sprigs, buy a back issue PDF of the January/February 2014 Pottery Making Illustrated.

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A Sweet Handbuilt and Wheel Thrown Dessert Bowl

Posted On August 22, 2014 13 Comments

In today’s post, Deborah Schwartzkopf, a master at designing beautiful non-round functional pottery, shows us how she makes her dessert bowls. The clip is an excerpt from her utterly inspiring new DVD Pieces and Patterns: Complex Forms from Handbuilt and Wheel-Thrown Parts, which is now shipping!! Enjoy!