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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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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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How to Make Sophisticated Pottery Forms Using the Most Basic of Tools

Posted On June 5, 2013 1 Comment

The pinch pot is the most elemental of pottery forms requiring simply one’s hands and a lump of clay. Because of this, it is often the first technique most of us learn when introduced to clay. But that doesn’t mean it is merely a beginner technique. Many artists use pinching techniques to make sophisticated or complex forms. Lily Zuckerman makes beautiful vessels starting from a solid lump of clay, with no clay added and very little cut away. In today’s post, she explains her process. – 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.

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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.