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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.


Ceramic Sculpture Video – The Curious Case of Benjamin Ballclay: See An Old Man Become Youthful in Under Two Minutes

Posted On October 16, 2009 20 Comments

We have two videos for you today. For fun, you can watch ceramic sculptor Philippe Faraut sculpt the years away and return an old man to his youth in under two minutes. Plus, you can watch the reverse in real time, complete with expert instructions. 


From Sad to Happy in Four Minutes: A Quick Course in Changing Facial Expressions in Figurative Ceramic Sculpture

Posted On September 25, 2009 25 Comments

We all know that a smile means happy, but what happens to the rest of the face when you smile? Philippe Faraut knows, and today, he’ll show us as he transforms a sculpture with a not-so-happy expression into a bright, smiling face (in about four minutes!). 


Ceramic Sculpture Video: An Introduction to Figure Sculpting in Clay

Posted On August 28, 2009 29 Comments

In today’s video, ceramic sculptor Philippe Faraut draws on his many years of sculpting experience and his vast knowledge of human anatomy to show us how to sculpt an anatomically correct skull in clay. 


Handbuilding Video – Sound Advice: An Expert Udu Drum Maker Shares Tips for Making Coil Built Forms That Can Take A Beating

Posted On August 7, 2009 8 Comments

In today’s video, ceramic artist Frank Giorgini demonstrates traditional Nigerian handbuilding techniques for making Udu drums. These techniques can be applied to any coil-built form so even if you don’t plan on making a drum, you’ll come away with methods to make beautiful and structurally sound vessels!


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.