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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: 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.

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How to Improve the Strength of Coil-Built Forms Using an Ancient Technique

Posted On May 18, 2012 6 Comments

In this clip, Joyce Michaud demonstrates the traditional east Asian coil technique, which combines coiling with potter’s wheel concepts. Joyce shows us how to “hand throw” with the grace and fliudity of someone who has been doing this for a long time. During this demonstration, she explains how this method can make work more structurally sound because it compresses and aligns the clay particles with the form, which can then open the doors for trying new and more-challenging forms. Along the way, she passes on great tips such as a cool way to establish a concave foot on a coil-built piece.

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Blurring the Line: Larry Elardo’s Slab Coil Pottery

Posted On April 23, 2012 13 Comments

Refining a process often leads the way to artistic and financial success. For Larry Elardo, developing a more effective method for creating his highly-textured containers posed an interesting challenge. By experimenting with different methods, and using engineering tools to assist him, Larry found that handbuilding upside down, combining slab and coil methods, and beveling edges considerably reduced the time he spends making each creation.

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Nifty Nests: Using Kitchen Gadgets and Textured Slabs to Create Square(ish) Nesting Bowls

Posted On April 2, 2012 14 Comments

Denver potter Annie Chrietzberg demonstrates her creative technique for making nesting pots from slab-built forms. This step-by-step how-to project illustrates how to use tart tins from a kitchen store as templates, how to cut darts in slabs to make square forms and how to work with textured surfaces to get truly unique dishes.

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Handbuilding Video: How to Make a Handbuilt Textured Ceramic Hors D’oeuvres Tray Using Just, Your Hands, a Lump of Clay, a Spring and a Sponge

Posted On March 2, 2012 17 Comments

Today we have a cool little video from Mark Peters. Mark is so good at taking a simple idea and the most basic of tools – a lump of clay, a sponge, and a stretched-out spring – and turning it into a loose, yet elegant piece of pottery. Have a look and then give this one a try!