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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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Simple Sets: Making and Using Templates for Uniform Handbuilt Bowls

Posted On June 22, 2014 10 Comments

In today’s post, an excerpt from his book From a Slab of Clay, Daryl Baird explains how to make templates and use them to create slab-built bowls. A great benefit of this is that if you make them with a sturdy material like card stock or laminated paper, you can use them over and over.

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Ribbing and Stretching Lively Marks into Thrown and Altered Pottery

Posted On June 13, 2014 2 Comments
Nick Joerling likes to make pots that are “active in the mind and imagination.” He achieves this goal by making gestural marks with simple tools on the wheel and then stretching and bending the clay to enhance those marks. In today’s post, an excerpt from his brand new video Gesture and Form: Throwing and Handbuilding,… Read More »
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Jerilyn Virden’s Double Walled Sculpture Process

Posted On June 11, 2014 21 Comments

In today’s post, Jerilyn explains how she uses double-walled construction to create the beautiful forms shown here. She also shares her firing schedule.

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Making a Tray for a Non Round Form

Posted On June 6, 2014 1 Comment
Marty Fielding enjoys making nonround angular forms, but is a wheel thrower at heart. So, rather than building from the ground up with slabs, Marty makes the walls of his pieces on the wheel then cuts them up and assembles them to get the pots he wants. In today’s post, an excerpt from his DVD Hybrid Pottery: Throwing, Altering, Assembling, Marty shows how he makes cool trays for his diamond-shaped oil bottles. Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
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Making Music with Clay: How to Make a Ceramic Whistle Flute

Posted On May 21, 2014 18 Comments

Today’s post combines two great things: clay and music. In an excerpt from Barry Hall’s From Mud to Music, you’ll learn how to make a clay whistle flute step by step.

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

Posted On May 16, 2014 10 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 new DVD Handbuilt Forms with Soft Slabs: Developing Ideas,… Read More »
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Tips for Darting Wheel Thrown Forms and Pulling Handles off the Pot

Posted On April 25, 2014 2 Comments

I have not done much darting in my work, and the times that I have, haven’t really been too successful. I think it’s because I have been to wimpy with my darts. In today’s video, Suze Lindsay walks through her darting process on a gravy boat, and explains that in order to be really successful with darting, you have to get over your fears of cutting too much. Plus, she shows how she pulls a handle off the pot. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Pottery Video! Tips for Strong Joints on Slab Built Pottery

Posted On March 21, 2014 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.

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Pinched Pitchers: A Fundamental Pottery Technique with Gorgeous Results

Posted On March 17, 2014 3 Comments

Pinch pots are often the first thing taught in a beginning pottery class because they require very few tools and are a great way to get familiar with the properties of clay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sophisticated forms with this method. In fact, the beauty of this technique is that the only limiting factor is your imagination. In this project, an excerpt from our free download How to Make Pottery: How to Learn Pottery Techniques and Enjoy Working with Clay, coil potter extraordinaire Emily Schroeder Willis shows how to make a beautiful pinched pitcher.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Video of the Week: How to Make a Freeform Handbuilt Serving Tray with a Faux Foot

Posted On February 14, 2014 22 Comments

Gail Kendall has a fantastic ability to manipulate clay that seems too soft to form with. Time and time again during the filming of her new video From Plate to Tureen: Slab and Coil Building, I thought to myself “there’s no way that is going to work!” But time and time again, Gail pulled off what I thought was impossible! In today’s video, Gail demonstrates the unconventional method she uses to make trays and platters with what she calls faux feet. I love the low-tech simplicity of this method – all you need are a slab, a coil, and your hands (plus lots of practice to get it to work with such soft clay!). – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.