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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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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.

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Pottery Video of the Week: How to Make Three Cool Handbuilt Handles with Coils and Slabs

Posted On June 10, 2013 8 Comments

Handles can be the bane of a potters existence – at least they are for me a lot of the time. So I am always happy when I learn new ways of approaching them. Today, in an excerpt from Gail Kendall’s new DVD Slab and Coil Building (which debuts today in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!) Gail shows us three great handle techniques. This DVD was so fun to watch because Gail has such a good sense of what her material can and cannot do. She definitely has me inspired to try her slab/coil techniques – and this clip in particular has cured my “handle block.” 

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Put Your Best Foot Forward: Suze Lindsay Shares Two Techniques for Handbuilt Feet

Posted On June 7, 2013 6 Comments

Historically, I have been more of a thrower than a handbuilder. I love handbuilt pots, but haven’t quite gotten there with my handbuilding. One thing I have struggled with is coming up with attractive feet on slabbuilt vessels and platters. But Suze Lindsay’s new DVD gave me some good ideas to play with. In today’s video, Suze shares a couple of great little techniques for added feet. Have a look! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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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.