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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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Video of the Week: How to Make a Wheel-Thrown and Handbuilt Ladle

Posted On April 26, 2013 6 Comments

It’s one thing to serve punch from a handmade ceramic punch bowl, but throw a handmade ceramic ladle in there, and you’ve reached a whole new level of cool.

In today’s post, an excerpt from her DVD Integrating Form and Surface with Porcelain, Lorna Meaden shares her method for making a wheel thrown and handbuilt ladle. She also shares her tips on how to fire such a piece. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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The Pinched Rim Plate: Combining the Polished Look of Throwing with the Raw Look of Pinched Pots

Posted On April 24, 2013 2 Comments

I have been sort of obsessed with plates lately – I haven’t been making any (too busy lately for the studio!) but I have been looking at the plates of other potters and thinking about the form a LOT. Something tells me, the first thing I do when I get back to the studio will be to make some plates. I was super excited by the plate technique of Todd Hayes in the May issue of Ceramics Monthly. Todd contrasts the refined look of thrown work with the more tactile surfaces of pinched pottery to create plates I want to possess. Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Make a Cool Textured Handle and Give it a Great Curve with a Dowel

Posted On April 22, 2013 9 Comments

Getting a beautiful curve on a handle can sometimes be challenging, especially if you don’t like to pull handles. But Bill van Gilder has a tip that makes it easy peasey. In today’s bonus Monday video, an excerpt from his DVD Pottery Techniques with Bill van Gilder, Volume 1, Bill shows how he handbuilds a mug handle and establishes a great curve using a dowel. The bonus: by handbuiling this way, you can make a handle with texture and attach it easily without marring the texture. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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How to Handbuild a Graceful Over-the-Top Teapot Handle That Looks Pulled

Posted On April 12, 2013 3 Comments

Today, we are introducing a new DVD that is a little different from our usual DVDs. This one, Getting Creative with Spouts & Handles, features four terrific artists demonstrating four complete projects that focus on spouted forms and handles. When we got questions about whether or not our Signature Series downloadable videos were available on disc, we thought, why not make compilation discs with several artists tackling a specific form or theme. So here they are (and the individual downloads are still available too!). In this excerpt, I am showing you an excerpt from Mike Jabbur’s teapot video. In this clip Mike shows his great technique for handbuilding graceful over-the-top handles that look like they’re pulled. PS. Though these projects put an emphasis on spouted forms and handles, they take you in depth through building the whole pot from the ground up, so there’s lots of extra information to boot!

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Pottery Video of the Week: How to Make a Textured Soft Slab Wall Plate

Posted On March 29, 2013 4 Comments

In today’s video, a (much condensed) excerpt from his DVD Slabs, Templates, Textures and Terra Sigillata, potter Jeremy Randall demonstrates his signature texture making method, and makes a soft-slab textured wall plate with an extruded rim and foot. Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

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Videos of the Week: A Couple of Tips for Making Interesting, Repeatable Pottery Forms

Posted On March 22, 2013 1 Comment

In these video clips, Deb Schwartzkopf demonstrates how she makes the super cool bottoms of her cup forms with a slab and a bisque fired mold. She then skillfully attaches the base to a bottomless wheel-thrown cylinder, which she then darts and alters to make the shape just right. The Mike Davis explains how easy it is to make attachments with cast pieces – just dip and stick! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Quilting with Clay: A Handbuilt Soft Slab Ceramic Wall Art Project

Posted On March 20, 2013 6 Comments

Ceramic artist Amy Sander’s work, which includes functional pottery as well as decorative wall pieces, has the appearance of soft quilted fabric although it is made of fired clay. Today, Amy shares her process for creating patchwork ceramic wall art.

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Video of the Week: How to Make an Elegant Wheel-thrown and Handbuilt Serving Bowl

Posted On March 15, 2013 4 Comments

I’ve been making a lot of bowls lately, but I am feeling like I need to change things up with them. I am happy with the surface, now I just need to work on the form. For some inspiration, I decided to revisit one of Martha Grover’s serving bowl projects on her DVD Creating Curves with Clay. Today, I thought I would share it on CAD because it is such a lovely piece. Perhaps it will help you take your bowls in a new direction. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Making Music with Clay: How to Make a Ceramic Ocarina

Posted On March 6, 2013 18 Comments

All kinds of musical instruments can be fashioned from clay, with one of the simplest being the ocarina. The project we are presenting today makes an ideal ceramics lesson plan for teachers incorporating basic handbuilding skills. Or it can be a fun project for those who need a break from their regular studio work.

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Using a Pottery Wheel to Make Cool Slab Built Pottery

Posted On February 27, 2013 5 Comments

Most of us don’t think of the pottery wheel when we think about making slabs. But there’s no reason to overlook this piece of equipment when slabbuilding. The pottery wheel can yield some pretty cool results as you can see in the image to the left. In today’s post, an excerpt from his book From a Slab of Clay, Daryl Baird explains how you can use the wheel to make a slab with a spiral texture, which is quite challenging with any other method. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.