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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 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.


Making Music with Clay: How to Make a Ceramic Ocarina

Posted On March 6, 2013 27 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.


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.


How to Add Interest to a Handbuilt Tumbler by Paddling the Foot and Adding a Foot Ring

Posted On February 25, 2013 5 Comments

I love watching Sandi Pierantozzi work and have been so excited by the great ideas I came away with after shooting her how-to DVD this past summer. So today, I am going to share another fun handbuilding technique from the DVD. In this clip, Sandi takes a basic cylindrical tumbler made with soft slabs, and adds a bit of elegance by paddling the bottom and adding a foot ring.


The Broomstick Method: Making Cylindrical Pottery Without a Pottery Wheel

Posted On February 15, 2013 5 Comments

In this video, Mitch Lyons demonstrates making a cylindrical form using a series of dowel rods in graduated sizes to hollow out the center. It is a great technique for handbuilding cylinders because you can really do a lot with surface texture. 


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!


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. 


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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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!