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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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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!

Desserts are indulgent, sometimes even decadent. Deb’s pedestal-footed dessert boats make it even more delightful.

Just Desserts: Thrown and Altered Pottery as Delicious as the Treats Inside

Posted On January 23, 2012 0 Comments

You might recall a recent CAD video in which Deb Schwartzkopf demonstrated one of her sweet little dessert bowls. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January/February 2012 Pottery Making Illustrated, Deb expands on that demonstration to show some variations on that form. If you find a little time to experiment, you’ll see that the possibilities are endless with this technique.

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The Kachelofen: Its Time has Come, Again

Posted On December 26, 2011 1 Comment
“Imagine that you are sitting in a room in your home, reading a good book, nestled right up against an oven whose clay-tile surface is keeping you warm. There is a built-in wood bench surrounding it, which encourages you to cozy right up against its wall. You realize that the entire day has gone by,… Read More »
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The Handle-Less Pitcher: A Simple Pottery Form that Does Not Sacrifice Function

Posted On November 28, 2011 9 Comments

Bill Griffith had been making small creamers and pitchers for a while when he decided that the handles, while pleasing aesthetically, were not functioning as well as he wanted them to. After experimenting with the form, he came up with handle-less pots that actually functioned better ergonomically than the pots had been making with handles. In today’s post, Bill explains his process for these slab-built handle-less pitchers.

Clay Pumpkin, by Lisa Bare Culp.

Bonus Monday Pottery Video: Spooky Clay – How to Make a Clay Jackolantern

Posted On October 31, 2011 37 Comments

We love Halloween here at Ceramic Arts Daily, and for today’s post, we wanted to have a little fun. So we called on our friend Lisa Bare Culp (who is always a hoot) and she delivered. In today’s bonus Halloween video, Lisa demonstrates a fun, festive (and spooky!) Halloween project suited for all ages. Happy Halloween everybody!

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Pottery Video of the Week: Making Interesting Cup Shapes by Combining Bisque Molded and Wheel-Thrown Parts

Posted On October 21, 2011 36 Comments

In today’s video, Deborah 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. Voila! Not your typical cylindrical cup form.

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Bonus Monday Pottery Video: Nifty Adjustable Mold System Makes Many Shapes and Sizes Possible with a Single Mold

Posted On October 17, 2011 72 Comments

In this bonus Monday pottery video, Dale Baucum tries out a couple of adjustable molds for slab building. The beauty of these molds is that you can make a plethora of different shapes and sizes of pots with just one mold. Super cool.