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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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Drawing in Space: How to Handbuild an Expressive Teapot Set Using Soft Slabs

Posted On February 6, 2013 13 Comments

Handbuilding can be thought of as a very basic ceramic technique, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to create very sophisticated forms. Many artists are using handbuilding techniques to create elegant, polished work. Margaret Bohls is one of those artists. She takes handbuilding beyond the basics to make her pillowy functional pots. The emphasis is on interior volume and Margaret finds the best way to achieve the look she wants is by using soft slabs. And lucky for us, she is happy to share her techniques!

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Winter Project Time! 3 Great Video Tips to Get you Started

Posted On January 4, 2013 4 Comments

It’s winter and if you’re like me, you are thinking about some indoor house projects to tackle. Maybe it’s time to spruce up your fireplace surround or customize a backsplash. To help get you inspired, we decided to have a sale on three of our DVDs that will help you get going on these winter projects. For this weekend you can buy all three DVDs for $99, or get 20% off individual DVDs. In today’s post, we’re sharing clips from all three DVDs. In the first clip, Stephani Stephenson explains how to make a shrink rule – a must-have for any architectural project. In the second, Angelica Pozo demonstrates the nine-tile template system she came up with to easily make consistent tiles. And finally, if you just want to make custom decoration on premade tiles, Paul Lewing gives you the low-down on brushes for China painting. 

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Handbuilding Nesting Bowls with Hump and Slump Molds

Posted On December 5, 2012 3 Comments

Nesting bowls are a project I have been meaning to take on for a while. I’ve always wanted to make a set of bowls that fit nicely together like Matryoshka nesting dolls. So, I’ve been trying to figure out the best approach – handbuilt or wheel thrown. After seeing Courtney Murphy’s nifty method for making nesting bowls, which I am sharing in today’s post, I am leaning toward handbuilding. See what you think! 

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Upcycled Utensils: Adding Handmade Handles to Out-of-Commission Kitchen Tools

Posted On October 15, 2012 4 Comments

As clay artists, we’ve all upcycled old, out-of-use objects into useful tool studio tools (think credit card rib). But I had never thought about it in terms of using my clay work to help breathe new life into an old object until I saw Kristin Pavelka’s article in the November/December 2012 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated. Kristin finds antique kitchen utensils with broken handles, and replaces the broken handles with gorgeous handmade handles. In today’s post, I have excerpted a bit from the article. 

 

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Pottery Video of the Week: Using Plastic to Make Handbuilding with Thin Slabs Easier

Posted On September 21, 2012 2 Comments

Most master potters have at least one signature piece or technique that they are known for. These signature pieces embody years of study, practice, and refinement, and demos of these pieces are often requested by workshop attendees. That’s why we decided to start a new series of CAD videos that focuses on in-depth demonstrations of the signature forms of well respected and talented ceramic artists. I’m happy to launch that series today with the release of three “Signature Series” downloadable videos: Lorna Meaden’s Watering Can; Suze Lindsay’s Ewer; and Mike Jabbur’s Teapot. These shorter downloads will be great for folks who are working on developing a form, need a little more insight or inspiration on that form, but don’t necessarily want a full-length DVD. For today’s video, I have excerpted a bit from Lorna’s Watering Can video in which she explains a trick she came up with to make handbuilding with thin porcelain slabs easier.

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Pottery Video of the Week: A Great Lesson Plan for Understanding Clay and the Human Figure

Posted On August 24, 2012 2 Comments

It’s that time of year again. Students and teachers are heading back to school. So we thought we’d have a back-to-school sale on of our most popular DVD for the education set – Neil Patterson’s Clay Projects and Fundamentals. Perhaps the best way to gain an understanding of clay and all it’s properties is to pick up a lump and start shaping it. And modeling clay into the human form is a great way to learn about proportion, symmetry, and gesture. In today’s post, Neil takes us through a simple figure sculpting project. This project also ties in well with history and world cultures lessons.

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From Slab to Grab: Creating Textured Handles

Posted On August 22, 2012 7 Comments

Texture in clay can be addictive. Who doesn’t love pressing objects into a piece of soft clay? And why stop at the handles? As Annie Chrietzberg demonstrates in today’s post, textured slab handles are a great way to carry texture throughout a piece – plus they are less messy than pulled handles and can provide instant gratification. Have a look!

 

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Wheel Throwing and Handbuilding to Add Quirky Personality to a Vase

Posted On August 20, 2012 0 Comments

Nick Ramey started out making high-fire, wheel-thrown pottery, but during graduate school became enamored with handbuilding low-fire earthenware sculptures. After grad school he decided to combine his various new skills and interests to make thrown and altered functional work, but add sculptural details to infuse it with humor. In today’s post, Nick explains his forming process. To learn about his decorating processes, check out the September/October 2012 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!

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Pottery Video of the Week: The Puffy Handle – Sandi Pierantozzi Demonstrates a Great Alternative to a Pulled Handle

Posted On June 15, 2012 11 Comments

Pulled handles are lovely, but they are not the only option for creating great handles on your pottery. With a little imagination and skill, you can make successful handles in a multitude of ways. Our good friend Sandi Pierantozzi, who is not lacking in the imagination or the skills department, returns today with a great idea for an alternative to the pulled handle. In this clip, Sandi shares the technique for making her “puffy” handles. Enjoy!

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Capturing the Exuberance of Nature in a Wheel Thrown and Altered Pottery Form

Posted On May 28, 2012 1 Comment

Today, Charlie Tefft explains how he throws and alters his “wren” pitchers.