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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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How to Make Interestingly Shaped Pots with Slump Molds

Posted On December 4, 2013 2 Comments

Slump molds are great tools in handbuilding because they allow you to dream up whatever shape you want and allow you to repeat it many times. They can be made from a wide variety of materials – from found objects to plaster. Plywood is Joe Singewald’s slump mold material of choice. In today’s post, he explains how he uses plywood to make his signature clover bowls.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Productive Play: How Playful Experimentation Leads to Fun Pottery Forms!

Posted On October 21, 2013 0 Comments

Learning to play in the studio can have its rewards, especially when new and unique forms are discovered. As is evident in her work, Chandra DeBuse embraces play in the studio. How else could she create such fun pieces? In today’s post, an excerpt from the hot off the presses November/December 2013 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, she shares the process for making one of her “Treat Servers.” I especially love the ingenious use of craft foam as a template! So smart. - Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Using Simple Components to Make Complex Pottery or Sculpture

Posted On October 18, 2013 12 Comments

Scott Dooley’s work looks to be anything but simple, with its wild angles and off-kilter shapes. But if you break it down to the basics, you learn that it is just made up of a lot of simple parts. In today’s video clip, an excerpt from his new DVD Handbuilding Modular Forms with Stiff Slabs, Scott demonstrates how he makes the building blocks of his sculptural vessels and the tools he has come up with along the way to make his process easier. With these tips, all you need is some imagination to develop interesting hand built pottery of your own. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Construct a Large Easel for Making Murals

Posted On October 9, 2013 2 Comments
When we’re talking about murals, bigger is often better. But constructing and carving those murals is very labor intensive and even back breaking if you are kneeling on a cold, hard cement floor for several hours at a time. It doesn’t have to be! In today’s post, an excerpt from the October 2013 issue of… Read More »
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Handle Making Video: Can You Handle It? Great Techniques for Textured Handles

Posted On August 23, 2013 7 Comments

Today, in a clip from his full-length DVD, Get a Handle On It, Tony Clennell demonstrates a couple of great methods for making attractive coil-built handles for functional pottery.

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Circular Logic: How to Explore Shapes for Handbuilding

Posted On August 9, 2013 0 Comments

I find it challenging to go from a flat slab of clay to a functional vessel (probably explains why I mostly throw). It is just hard to picture what a two-dimensional shape is going to do when it’s folded into a three dimensional shape. So I loved this little explanation by Sandi Pierantozzi. In this clip from her best selling DVD What if? Explorations with Texture and Soft Slabs, Sandi shares her “circular logic” and shows you how to turn it into a nice little bowl. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Making Simple Molds for Slabware

Posted On July 26, 2013 8 Comments

My son starts kindergarten this year (how could that possibly be?!), so the rapid pace at which this summer is flying by is on my mind quite a bit. This might also be the case for all of those school teachers out there.So, today I thought I’d share a project that would work great as a lesson plan. It would also work great for all of you non teachers who are just looking for new ways to streamline your processes in the studio.For more help with lesson planning, take advantage of our Back to School Sale on Neil Patterson’s DVD Clay Projects and Fundamentals.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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The 30-Minute Teapot

Posted On July 17, 2013 7 Comments

Summer is the time that educators regroup and plan for the upcoming school year. So today, I thought I would share a cool project that would make a great lesson plan. In this post, Yoko Sekino Bove shares her 30-Minute Teapot lesson. The beauty of this lesson plan for teachers is that it can be made in one class period. If you’re not a teacher, it’s a fun little project to experiment with if you’re needing a break from your usual routine. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Make a Cool Textured Handbuilt Tray from One Slab of Clay

Posted On June 26, 2013 8 Comments

Looking at the finished product of this project, it is obvious that it was slab built, but maybe not so obvious that it was made from just one slab. I would have guessed that the handles were added. But it is just a one-slab project. In today’s post, an excerpt from the July/August 2013 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Glenn Woods explains this fun project. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Paying Attention to Details to Make a Comfortable Functional Handle

Posted On June 21, 2013 8 Comments

The handle on my Mike Jabbur coffee mug is one of my absolute favorites in my collection. The ear-shaped curve at the top of the handle is just perfect for my fingers to comfortably nestle into, and is now a shape I seek out in a handle…and something I have been incorporating into my own work. It’s these details that make all of the difference. In today’s clip, an excerpt from his new DVD Precise Imprecision: Strengthening Throwing Skills to Create Dynamic Functional Pottery, Mike demonstrates his handle making process and discusses the details he considers to make them function well.