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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.


More than meets the eye—the lines on Jeff Campana’s pots go beyond just scratching the surface.

Decorating Through Disassembly: Jeff Campana’s Sliced and Spliced Porcelain Pottery

Posted On September 20, 2010 21 Comments

There are many, many ways to put lines onto posts – carving, fluting, painting, drawing – but, I have to say, I had never seen anyone doing it quite like Jeff Campana. Jeff takes his well-thrown porcelain pots, chops them up into pieces, and then reassembles them. Then to top it all off, he uses glazes that pool in the seams. Today, Jeff shares his technique and how he arrived at such a labor intensive process in the first place.

Amber Fold, 25 in. (64 cm) in width, handbuilt earthenware, hollow construction, glaze, sandblasted, 2009.

Jerilyn Virden: The Evolution of a Form

Posted On September 6, 2010 16 Comments

In today’s post, Robin Dreyer tells us about the evolution of
Jerilyn Virden’s work. Plus Jerilyn explains how she uses double-walled
construction, oxides, layered glazes and sandblasting to create the
beautiful forms shown here.

Ian Marsh’s dropped dish has taken the shape of the wooden frame. Dia: approx. 30 cm (11 3/4in.) square. Photos: Ian Marsh.

Tips for Using Soft Slabs to Make Pottery

Posted On September 1, 2010 43 Comments

In today’s post, we’ll concentrate on working with soft slabs in particular. If you’ve ever used soft slabs, you know that they are extra susceptible to finger marks, distortion and collapse. This posts contains tips to help avoid those problems and a project that takes advantage of soft slab malleability to make some really cool dishes.

Fig.4 The finished form standing upright.

How to Make Large Slab-Built Ceramic Forms Using Tarpaper Molds

Posted On August 30, 2010 14 Comments

Today’s post is a sampling of what’s inside our new free download Slab Roller Techniques and Tips: A Guide to Selecting a Slab Roller and Making Slab Pottery. In it, Marcia Selsor demonstrates how tarpaper can be used as a molding material for slab building.

Patz Fowle adds detail to her handbuilt ceramic sculpture.

Handbuilding Video: A Surefire Way to Build Strong Handbuilt Sculptures

Posted On August 27, 2010 38 Comments

If you’ve ever had problems with appendages cracking off of handbuilt sculptures, today’s video might just help you solve that problem. In it, Patz Fowle explains the process she developed to avoid these unfortunate occurrences. Watch the video!

Pitcher, wheelthrown and hand-built porcelain, multiple glazes, fired to cone 10 in oxidation.

For the Birds: How Deborah Schwartzkopf Uses the Pottery Wheel Combined with Slabs and Molds to Create Her Avian Inspired Forms

Posted On August 24, 2010 11 Comments

Deborah Schwartzkopf’s work has gone to the birds – for inspiration that is. Using bisqued molds based on her observations of birds, Deborah makes work inspired by pelicans and loons and everything in between. Follow her through the process of creating molds and using them as forms for her assembled pots.

Brand Remover (front view), 7½ (19 cm) in height, porcelain, raku fired, 2010.

Message on a Bottle: How to Make an Ultra-Thin, Textured Slab Built Vase

Posted On August 18, 2010 28 Comments

Today, Frank James Fisher takes us through the process of creating a stamp-textured bottle form out of very thin porcelain slabs. He not only gives insight into effectively using stamps, but he also gives some great tips for success with super thin slabs.

Philippe Faraut separates a sculpture into two sections so that it can be hollowed out.

Firing Figurative Clay Sculpture: How to Hollow Out a Handbuilt Form in Preparation for the Kiln

Posted On July 9, 2010 18 Comments

In today’s video, Philippe Faraut demonstrates how he prepares a figurative sculpture for firing by cutting the piece into two sections, hollowing it out, and then putting it all back together without the slightest hint that it was ever two pieces. Watch the video!

Sally and Alisdair MacDonell, Face Brooches, 2008. Nine awaiting glaze application and nine fired, finished with cobalt or copper oxide and a matt white stoneware glaze, 30 x 40 mm (11⁄4 x 11⁄2 in.). Photo: Dan Bosworth.

How to Make and Use a Plaster Press Mold to Make Ceramic Jewelry

Posted On July 5, 2010 31 Comments

In today’s post, Allistair and Sally MacDonnell show us how easy it is to make plaster press molds to make a series of brooches. Plus they explain how they use stamps to texture each slab before molding it into the shape they want.

Sandi Pierantozzi cleans up the textured rim on a handbuilt bowl.

Handbuilding Video: Sandi Pierantozzi Demonstrates How to Use a Template to Make a Textured Soft-Slab-Built Bowl with a Wrapped Rim

Posted On June 18, 2010 77 Comments

In today’s clip, Sandi Pierantozzi demonstrates a cool soft slab building technique for a bowl with a wrapped rim. She also explains the template system she uses to make her pottery. Watch the video!