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Pugaboo

Help With Designing A Simple Handle For Mugs For A Class

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I have been asked to teach a class this summer at the local art center. This class will be for adults and most of the students will be elderly with only limited or basic clay expertise. There will be some mobility and dexterity issues. I have decided to do a class on Designing Dinnerware. By the end of the class, and the summer, students will have a dinnerware set for four. I will have them make for each place setting a dinner plate, salad plate and cereal bowl. For drinking vessels I am thinking either juice glasses and mugs or iced tea glasses and mugs. Mugs have been requested to be part of the set no matter which other glass I go with.

 

I have everything but the mugs figured out. I've come up with a method to make the plates and bowls that create nice stackable dishes that are very easy to make and get good results. For the glasses I have made bisque molds for the students to use to create these so it's just a matter of wrapping the clay around the form and adding a bottom.

 

I am down to the mugs, already have the bisque mold designed for the body but the handle is the issue. These are elderly people with arthritis so from past experience I know rolling coils is difficult for a lot of them. They have no extruder and do not have the expertise or dexterity to pull handles.

 

I am wondering if they could use the slab roller to roll out a slab 3/8 inch thick, thicker than normal I know, but I made a bunch of my own handles and cross sectioned them and the thickest parts seem to be about that. Once they have the slab rolled have them use a ruler to cut out a strip of clay about 1 inch wide by however long I figure out it needs to be. So they will have a strip 3/8 thick by 1 inch by __ long. I am thinking they could use a rubber rib or sponge to shape the edges so they are not angular, this would also compress the edges. Have them shape the handle curve by laying it on its side on a board and then let it firm up enough to hold it's shape before scoring and attaching to mug.

 

What issues will there be with handles made like this? Will they be strong enough? More prone to cracking, etc? Your suggestions and input are much appreciated and I will be testing handles out before class of course.

 

Terry

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A potter I follow makes handles a way that I think might be doable for your group. I don't know if it would or not, but it doesn't involve any pulling just smoothing out of an uneven coil of clay. You could even do this from a thick slab cut like your stated. Hope it helps. I never tried this method, but I saw it a while ago and it made sense for people who want a pulled handle look but dont want to pull handles or who dont have an extruder. It might be a bit much for their hands, but they dont have to go as perfect as he does.

 

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Joseph - thank you! I actually think something like that video would work but use a strip of slab instead of the coil. Last summer I taught something as well and didn't realize rolling coils would be an issue for some and had to spend time rolling coils myself during class for people which was a distraction. I like the idea of draping the handles over something to firm up much easier than shaping a curve. I have some large round wooden dowels I use for bracelets, some scraps of PVC pipe and even some pieces of railing that I could have them use will have to test each and see what gives the most mug like handle shape.

 

LinR - I thought about one of those ribbon tools but I don't own one and would have to buy several for the class to use myself since the art center has a very small budget. I would rather use my budget for things I absolutely have to buy. I have most of the other tools needed from other classes I have done.

 

Now I need to try these ideas out myself and see how I can tweak them for hands that don't work as well as they used to. When I decided to teach this class I knew I had to make it accessible to as many as possible so that meant everything slab built. They will be so happy to be able to make mugs!

 

Again thank you.

 

T

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The easiest way for them is that slab method you are describing and smoothing the edges with their wet fingers. If you can find a larger cardboard roll that was used for fabric to lay them over it would help also.

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you could do a press mold of a handle shape, have them stuff it in and remove. This would give the basic blank and then joining and shaping. You could make several shaped handle press molds that could be decorative or plain to give them some choices.

 

 

best,

Pres

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I made my own ribbon tool since my hands just won't do pulled handles. This is a piece of wire that I bent. The wire is normally used for putting up insulation, they go between the joists. I worked fine but I did cave and get myself an extruder that just arrived yesterday, whee.

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post-58820-0-38715300-1453384895_thumb.png

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Pres, I like the idea of a press mold with a few variations. Since they are already using slump and jump molds for everything else it would make a nice addition to the class. Don't know why I didn't think of it, and that's why I ask you all here!

 

I have offered to help purchase an extruder for the center I can't afford to just go buy one and give it to them but have offered to help with a fundraiser and an amount to get them started. I am hoping they will take me up on it before summer. I even offered to do an additional class on how to use it. I use mine for so many things I can't imagine not having one.

 

Now it's time to me to head to the studio and design a push mold for the handles! Thanks everyone!

 

T

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I taught an adult class during the "Cabin Fever" months of Jan-February. I charged $60 for the class tuition+material costs of so much per fired pound. I did not take any money out of tuition for my time, put all of it into a district account that would roll over from fiscal to fiscal. In this way I was able to buy wheels, extruders, tables, and chairs that I believed I needed without having to worry about budgetary constraints. I realize you are in a different situation, I was freeing myself from monetary problems as I basically owned where I taught the classes and any money I could scrape up just made my life easier.

 

 

best,

Pres

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Pugaboo, the method you described is exactly how I make dog-bone shaped handles. I too start out with 3/8 inch thick slab. These handles have not cracked or warped. After cutting the shape out of the slab, slap the handle down on the table a few times, then use a sponge to smooth the edges.

 

OR this idea comes from Bill Van Gilder. It is an adjustable coil maker. 3/4 inch plywood 12 x 16. 3 inch carriage bolts, 2 flat washers, nut, and wingnut.

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post-13363-0-27374400-1453390953_thumb.jpg

post-13363-0-05806900-1453390965_thumb.jpg

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joseph, thank you for the video.  the idea is a good one, i am sorry that the finished handle at the end of the video is so enormous.  except for perhaps arthritic hands so it may be good for terry's use.  

 

that handle sticks out too far to be used in the normal cabinets of american kitchens without being in the way and in danger of being knocked around and broken.  the average hand would not find it comfortable to hold except with the whole hand.  when in use and full, it will slip because it is so round there is no way to get a grip on it.

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"I am wondering if they could use the slab roller to roll out a slab 3/8 inch thick, thicker than normal I know, but I made a bunch of my own handles and cross sectioned them and the thickest parts seem to be about that. Once they have the slab rolled have them use a ruler to cut out a strip of clay about 1 inch wide by however long I figure out it needs to be. So they will have a strip 3/8 thick by 1 inch by __ long. I am thinking they could use a rubber rib or sponge to shape the edges so they are not angular, this would also compress the edges. Have them shape the handle curve by laying it on its side on a board and then let it firm up enough to hold it's shape before scoring and attaching to mug."

 

This is exactly how I have been making handles and have had no problems...I am just now getting around to making a press mold for myself. (Arthritis in both hands and other wrist/forearm strength issues). If I texture any part of the handle, I lightly sand it once dry, to be sure there are no sharpies.

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OR this idea comes from Bill Van Gilder. It is an adjustable coil maker. 3/4 inch plywood 12 x 16. 3 inch carriage bolts, 2 flat washers, nut, and wingnut.

 

One of the first tools I made after taking Bill's workshop.  Works great . . . but use fresh clay.  Bill encouraged us to take pictures of tools and molds and make our own. 

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ok, i'll bite.  how can a flat piece of plywood "make" a coil? :huh:   have never seen this before, is one of my legs getting a little longer than the other?

 

I wondered that too, Old Lady.  Then realised that I have used a board to roll coils.  You use the board instead of your hands.  I'm guessing that the bolts are adjustable to give consistent thickness coils, whereas I just used the normal thickness gauges that I'd use with a rolling pin for slabs.

 

Edit - re-reading this I'm not entirely sure if I haven't made less sense, but I know what I mean/do.   <_< 

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ok, i'll bite.  how can a flat piece of plywood "make" a coil? :huh:   have never seen this before, is one of my legs getting a little longer than the other?

 

I wondered that too, Old Lady.  Then realised that I have used a board to roll coils.  You use the board instead of your hands.  I'm guessing that the bolts are adjustable to give consistent thickness coils, whereas I just used the normal thickness gauges that I'd use with a rolling pin for slabs.

 

Edit - re-reading this I'm not entirely sure if I haven't made less sense, but I know what I mean/do.   <_<

 

You got it Chilly. You start with a hand formed coil slightly larger than desired, then use the board to make a coil with uniform thickness by rolling the board over the coil. You can adjust coil thickness by adding/subtracting washers as spacers. I've used one for the past 6 or so years since first seeing Bill use one at a workshop. Used the coils for handles, but also for coils in coil-building projects.

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Terry: I have seen slab handles as you described be used very successfully. If you'd like, I can ask my friend Christine if she's willing to share her template she uses for her handles so you'd have a place to start. She cuts them out of manila folders. 

 

All my handles are flattened coils. I've gotten to where I can even taper them because I like the top of the handle to be a bit thicker than the bottom. They were hard to make at first but they come out pretty consistent now.

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