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I've been having some issues with handles on mugs. I'm working in ^6 pale stoneware and have tried multiple tricks like adding different clays, paper slip, and vinegar to help it along and such. It's specifically handles. I haven't even had issues with joining almost bone dry vase parts together with nothing but water. Pull the handle, let it firm up. Slip and score as usual on an almost leather hard pot and go from there. However I always develop these hair line cracks around the seam on the top of the handle, sometimes the bottom. At one point I tried pulling the handle off the mug too. Nice fluidity but nevertheless thin cracks appeared right at the seam. The handle is joined sufficiently as I can pick it up at bone dry and have fired some that were cracks for home use. Completely usable but these hairlines become prominent after firing and who wants to buy a cracked mug? I have a feeling the seams are cracked from lack of compression. Does anyone compress their seams with a tool or something? Or is it something I missed. Any input would be greatly appreciated 

Edited by BlackDogPottery
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mug body may need to be less dry.

how are you drying your ware?

some folk cover the handles, which because of their nature tend to dry faster than the mugs

some people even wax around the area where handle attaches to the body.

some attach handles and stick mugs sraight into kiln

some carve a groove which gets rid of the little crack....

covered slow drying works for me along with handle being drier than mug body.

at point of attaching, the marrying of mug and handle with not too much mucking around smearing clay everywhere also helps me

Min and BlackDogPottery like this

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Some people dab a little wax on that area to slow the drying. I dry mine under an inverted plaster storage contains and let them dry verrryyyyy slowly. I saw a video of martha Grover finishing her handles by carving around the joint. Try finding that. I admire her fluidity in her forms and especially her handles. There is always a great number of solutions to a specific problem in clay.Maybe try to equalize the moisture content between the mug and the handle as Babs suggests above. I let the handles set up while keeping the mugs under the plastic container until they are close to the same consistency.

 

Marcia

 

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Yes, don't blend the seam. Design a handle with a visible seam. Even if a small crack forms along the seam, when bone dry you can take a dry pointy wooden tool and rub it out before you put it in the bisque kiln. (Blending is also very time consuming, visible seam saves a lot of time)

IMG_1074.JPG.8923ca221a8b6893a8c479e7efd4b522.JPG

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I used to find that if I blended the seam by hand, I always got a little cracking around the blend areas. Later I found that if I used a 1" diameter dowel on the inside of the handle to make certain that area was compressed that I got a much better join transition and was able to shape the handle to my aesthetic with a few wipes of a finger on the inside curve to adjust it. Then I lay a plastic over the bat of pots and let them dry that way over night. I put handles on when the mug is leather hard, and pull each one before joining onto the pot. I use magic water for the joining medium, and a tooth brush to apply the magic water.

 

best,

Pres

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A bit off topic but I came across a vid of a fellow using a contour rib stuck onto his thumb while pulling handles. Looks like it would be a good alternative for anyone without an extruder who is looking for that type of look, starts at 2.46 (there is also a good vid on how to make coloured silkscreen decals and how to throw a banana if you get bored of making pots)

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Min,

thank you so much for the video. . . I am dealing with a rt thumb that has had surgery for cyst and bone spurs 3 yrs ago. Now the joint is gone, and the bones rub, so they have grown spurs on both sides of the join to make it stable. I can bend the thumb, but not much. The width of the thumb is larger than two thumbs, so my pulled handles with double ribs look pretty sad of late. I will be making this tool soon!

 

best,

Pres

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7 hours ago, Min said:

A bit off topic but I came across a vid of a fellow using a contour rib stuck onto his thumb while pulling handles. Looks like it would be a good alternative for anyone without an extruder who is looking for that type of look, starts at 2.46 (there is also a good vid on how to make coloured silkscreen decals and how to throw a banana if you get bored of making pots)

I love how the off-topic bits in this forum lead to unexpected solutions and new sources of information. Wish I'd known the banana trick when I was exhibition throwing years ago!

How nice would it be to have a searchable list of all the recommendations links that members have shared? 

Thank you, everyone. 

yappystudent and Min like this

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9 hours ago, BlackDogPottery said:

Thanks everyone. Will try some of these. Hate to admit it but its kinda hard to bring yourself to waste a bunch of mugs to handle!

Practice with "octomugs." Pull/attach as many handles as you can fit on one mug. 

Joseph F, Rae Reich, Chilly and 1 other like this

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On 11/1/2017 at 2:34 AM, BlackDogPottery said:

I always develop these hair line cracks around the seam on the top of the handle, sometimes the bottom

If you are drying your mugs right side up then when you put the handles on the top is likely to be be dryer than the bottom. A super quick dip of the top half of the mug into water then letting the mug sit just until it's soaked in the water before putting on the handles helps even out the moisture. Bottoms of handles don't crack as much as the clay is wetter usually plus the tops are going to dry out faster when dried right side up. I like getting the handles on mugs as soon as possible, if the mug distorts out of round then after putting the handle on you can re-round them by pressing a plastic cup (like one of those Solo beer cups) into it to true it back up. Somewhere there is a J.Britt video where he has clay "rounders", a cone of bisque  clay to do the same thing.

Rae Reich, Babs and yappystudent like this

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Update.  Put handles on a lot sooner,  added a coil of clay around the seams, blended with a tool, and dried way slower under plastic. I believe that was the problem, speed drying on top of a hot kiln what was I thinking lol? So far so good.  Lets see if they can survive being raw glazed!

Edited by BlackDogPottery
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This thread just cleared up pretty much everything that is holding me back from making mugs on a regular basis. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I have been smearing and blending too much, letting the top of the mug get too dry before trying to attach, and not just letting the seam be a seam. 

Also for some reason it never occurred to me to extrude my handles, if you can call my play-doh fun factory an extruder...it makes great porcelain bangles, I'm going to try it for some handles too. 

Edited by yappystudent
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Another thing that will help people with extremely fast drying climates in their studios/homes. Buy a small greenhouse. They are cheap and effective, around 20 dollars. After you attach handles put the mugs in the green house for a day or so. They will dry much more evenly due to no airflow and higher humidity. 

You also should flip mugs as soon as you can to avoid the top half being to dry. Or you can just throw them in the green house so that they dry almost completely even. Then you can take them out, attach handles and put them back in for a day. I basically have a green house just for this purpose. Anytime I throw a mug it goes in there, so I don't have to worry about getting to it until I am ready. If the mug gets a bit to dry. I just wrap a slightly damp paper towel around it, then go back an hour later and boom ready to go.

But again, this is all if you have a wacky climate. In general I find if the handles are causing problems, you need to find a better clay or get your timing down. The green house thing is mostly for when you have a HVAC system or your just not going to be able to get to the mugs at the right moment. 

Edited by Joseph F
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 in reading this thread, i noticed that some basic info might help those of you trying to attach handles.  for those of you who have not yet done this, just try it.  the only purpose is to familiarize yourself with your own clay body so you can handle it more confidently.

using a piece of clay that is about the same thickness as you normally use, dry it totally.    once absolutely dry, dip it into a container of water.  dip quickly and watch it dry enough so there is no visible water.  use a sharp tool and scratch into the wet section.  repeat this until the piece is too thin and breaks.   your goal is to determine exactly how much moisture your very dry clay needs to dissolve.  you may be surprised to find how long it takes and what a large quantity of water it takes to weaken the body.  

one result of knowing how much it takes is to let you understand that NOTHING gets too dry to trim.    another is to show that adding sprigs can be done easily by allowing both the pot and the sprig to dry completely.  i do this with seashells about the size of marbles.  put the sprig onto the pot and position it exactly where you want it.  then take a paintbrush, round #6 works for me, and get it very wet.  touch the tip of the brush to the top of the sprig and watch the water completely wet the sprig and the pot where it will be attached.  done.   do not touch again until it is totally dry.

hhmmm.............  wonder if this will work with totally dry mugs and totally dry handles........ another experiment on its way.

Chilly, RonSa, Joseph F and 1 other like this

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The thought of being able to join when dry is exciting, however, I worry so much about excess dust these days that I try to trim everything while cheese hard, and join handles when leather hard. My shop is crowded, so dust is difficult to control, so I do everything I can to keep the amount of dust from building up.

 

 

best,

Pres

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