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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.

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 8 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.

Ceramic Bead Video: Making Hollow Clay Beads

Posted On November 7, 2008 0 Comments

If anyone was looking for proof that ceramics really does cross over into all sorts of creative endeavors, this week’s video is that proof of that assertion. Barbara Hanselman demonstrates how to make hollow clay beads using a few dowels, a small amount of clay, simple tools and a bit of imagination.  Even if you don’t want to make beads, this is a great technique. I first saw Mitch Lyons use it (watch for his video coming soon) to make full-size vessels. So give this technique a try and let us know what you come up with!— Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily

Ceramic Handbuilding Video: Get Into the Artist’s Head – An Interview with Ceramic Sculptor Tom Bartel

Posted On September 12, 2008 8 Comments

Today we are trying something a little different with our video of the week. We are featuring an interview with ceramic sculptor Tom Bartel, who is exhibiting his new body of work at Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio. The interview also features a short demonstration of Tom’s handbuilding techniques. We thought this would be a great way to not only let those outside of the Central Ohio area experience this fantastic exhibition, but also, to get to know the artist, his motivations and processes. Hope you enjoy it! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

In addition to what is covered in the video, we have included some more information on Tom’s processes and some of his glaze recipes as a free download below.

Pushing the Envelope: Creating Complex Ceramic Sculpture with Bone-Dry Clay and a Simple Mortar

Posted On August 25, 2008 2 Comments

One of the challenges of working with clay is timing, especially when constructing a complex sculptural form. Making sure that all components are at the appropriate moisture and stiffness level when joining pieces is one of the key considerations that sculptors must address. Sculptor Mark Gordon has adapted a technique he first observed being practiced by traditional Egyptian brick makers for his ceramic sculpture. The technique is a sure-fire and simple way to securely attach bone-dry greenware to bone-dry greenware.

Perfect Perforations: Drawing Inspiration from the Landscape to Make Slab-Built Ceramic Sculpture

Posted On August 20, 2008 1 Comment

In her latest body of work, Elaine Parks has been experimenting with puncturing clay slabs as a nod to the shapes she sees in the landscape around her, from pores in a rock to scar holes from mining, which are prevalent in the area. Today, she shares her slab building process and how she has perfected her perforations.

Handle Making Video: Pulling Handles Directly off a Pot

Posted On May 16, 2008 1 Comment

In this video, Andrew Sanders of Dixon, New Mexico, demonstrates pulling handles directly on the pot–a very handy skill indeed! This technique results in a more organic relationship between the handle and the vessel. And, because you, well,  handle your handle less, you’ll reduce the chance of accidentally nicking or dinging work and avoid extra clean-up time. Watch the video, then try it for yourself! -Jennifer Harnetty, editor.