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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.


Fish Tales: A Ceramic Artist Interprets Personal History Through Raku Sculpture

Posted On July 15, 2009 5 Comments

Ceramic sculptor Lisa Merida Paytes tells us about her work and takes us through the process of creating and raku firing one of her skeletal fish sculptures.

Flat-coil Built Jar

How to Make a Coil Pot: Using Flat Coils to Construct Large Jars

Posted On July 9, 2009 1 Comment

Making large ceramic jars with flat coils has been done for centuries in many parts of Asia. One big advantage with this method is you can make most any shape because you can change direction as you build the form, which is next to impossible on the wheel. Once you get the technique down, you can use the same flat coil technique for a variety of clay sculpture forms as well.


Handle Making Video: Spicing Up Handles on Pottery by Combining Techniques

Posted On July 1, 2009 7 Comments

In this excerpt from his great full-length DVD, Get a Handle On It, Tony Clennell demonstrates a nifty little way to add interest to handles on pottery.


Go Figure: Combining Simple Handbuilding Techniques to Make Figurative Sculptures

Posted On April 13, 2009 2 Comments

In today’s post, ceramic artist Dee Schaad presents a project that combines two simple handbuilding techniques – pinching and soft slab building – to make figurative sculptures.


The Reassembled Ring Teapot: A Different Way of Looking at a Favorite Pottery Form

Posted On March 9, 2009 0 Comments

Looking for some interesting new ideas for the teapot form? Today we’ll show you how potter Ray Bub throws and assembles teapots that would make Picasso proud.

Biomimicry: Using Slabs, Coils and Other Handbuilding Techniques to Create Lively Sculpture

Posted On March 2, 2009 0 Comments

Today, we’ll explain how ceramic artist Eva Kwong uses slabs, coils and other handbuilding techniques to make her biologically influenced ceramic sculptures.

Clay Sketches and Templates: Methods for Transforming Ideas into Objects

Posted On February 24, 2009 1 Comment

In the upcoming April issue of Ceramics Monthly there is a full-length feature article on potter Liz Zlot Summerfield. Today, we’ll give you a sneak peek of the work you can expect to see in the article and share a little bit of Liz’s handbuilding process.

Handbuilt Pottery Making Video: How to Make a Properly Functioning Handbuilt Spout for a Teapot

Posted On February 13, 2009 7 Comments

Today’s video features potter Jeffrey Nichols demonstrating a great technique for a handbuilt teapot spout. In addition to the technique, Jeffrey discusses and gives pointers on what makes a teapot spout function properly.



Handbuilt Pottery Video: Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons

Posted On November 21, 2008 4 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

Protecting Your Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture: Hints for Even Drying

Posted On November 17, 2008 3 Comments

Sometimes, when I’m really on a roll in the studio, I find it difficult to be patient and let the work dictate the pace of the process. If it’s not ready to be trimmed, and I go ahead and trim it while it’s too soft, I pay the price in deformation or S-cracks after firing (from not compressing during trimming). The same can be true with drying. Rushing the process is almost never good. Luckily, it’s not difficult to dry your work evenly—assuming you can make yourself leave it alone. In today’s feature, Snail Scott walks us through the basics of drying and some simple ways to ensure success.