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QotW: Do you back fill handles at the attachment point?

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DHPotter had a studio question a few weeks ago: Do you back fill handles at the attachment point? If so, is it for aesthetic or structural reasons?

 

I think that is a good process question, and as I have been having handle problems of late, I will address this.

I used to add a pulled handle to mugs and pitchers that had a few knobs above, one large with two smaller on each side. At the bottom I did not back fill as in never seemed necessary. This was for years with the work, as I would arch the top handle up a bit, and reinforce above the handle with the 3 knobs that were worked into the handle. . center knob with a thumb imprint, other two with a rounded rib I made for the purpose. I have been looking at the dog bone handles that are pulled with round body, and thicker on top and bottom, and they seemed to be complete looking on some pots. . .just not for me.

Nowadays, I cannot make the pulled ribbon handle I used to make, and have started doing extruder handles as my thumb has very little movement in the joint just below the thumb nail, and the thumb has a super wide joint. The extruder handles are working better, especially after I have made major changes in the dies with a dremel tool. However, as it seems to take a little less time, I have started to back fill in the bottom joint, smoothing it with a small rounded rib. They look good, but sometimes I forget to do it, so have seen them both ways.  . don't know as there is a whole lot of difference if the handle is added on well, and finished well. I guess it is a personal decision, aesthetic at best, certainly not needed for strength.

 

best 

Pres

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No - backfill,they are extruded handles-cut at a slant. The pot body is scored well and slip (collected while throwing and add some vinagar)is applied with a brushed handle is put on. The top of all my handled pots have a thumb spot or finger rest. Thats another process with slip and no scoring.

The secret if there is one if there are Any cracks they are rubbed out while doing with a small sharp wooden stick. They disappear after that .Most potters do not do this final step but I  stick any cracks as they dry. 

Edited by Mark C.

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The white mug pictured here (a Sean Kunz number) is a back filled handle. You can see that the original strip of clay was probably rolled out quite flat, and would have had a relatively small attachment point. He took a small coil and back filled that space to both reinforce the join, and for aesthetics.  Because the handle or the backfill is often smoothed flush to the mug body (this example isn't totally), depending on your clay and drying conditions, can be prone to cracking. It adds a step, but it looks awesome.

The other mug is one of mine, and is a "dog bone" style, called so because they flare at top and bottom and taper in the middle like a cartoon dog bone. It leaves a shadow around the attachment point that can be more forgiving of drying shrinkage. The slight gap gets filled in with glaze and reinforced that way. It also has its own aesthetic

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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At this point the few handles I've made have been back-filled because I don't know how not to. I'm afraid they'll break off otherwise and feel it necessary to reinforce where attached. 

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Not a back-fill person. I tried it on a batch of mugs. did the bottom attachment and not the top. It looked good but did not put this process into the workflow.

However, after seeing Callie's pic of the white mug, I like that a lot. I make the dogbone handle from a slab, The upper attachment point looks a lot like the white mug pic. Adding the filler sure makes the pot complete, slick, and to me, highly professional looking.

 

Edited by dhPotter

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Backfill is an aesthetic detail and is used to avoid an abrupt "end" of a line.
  
However, I always compress and round the transition from the handle material and the object material using the side of a 3mm diameter skewer so that there is smooth curved transition from the handle to the mug.   Sharp (acute angle) corners are stress risers (in mechanical engineering jargon) that often lead to the origin of cracks in drying and firing.  Rounding these joins reduces the likelihood of cracks.    When examined up close, both of the illustration cups in Callie's post have this rounded transition at all of the joins;   yet the blue cup handle seems to lack the general flowing lines of the handle on the white cup.  
  
LT
 

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These photos are a good example of aesthetics vs good function. The white mug is by far the one that looks the best, and takes the best picture. The proportions are spot on, the visual flow impeccable. The finishing details are beautifully thought out. The glaze is a minimalists' dream of everything calm, subtle and soothing, and it's well suited to the form. It's stunning, and I love it. But...

It's uncomfortable as hell. The sharp edge on the handle digs into the side of your finger when you lift the cup. It takes a bit of fiddling to find a way to balance it in your hand without burning yourself, because the spacing between the handle narrows too closely to the mug body at the bottom attachment point. The handle angle is wrong for it to be a two finger mug, and it's not large enough to be a three finger mug.  The handle is too wide. It's a piece made with aesthetics, not ergonomics in mind, and you would never know that unless you held the thing. I also kind of hate it. 

The blue mug is definitely less sexy.  The slip trailed decoration is a bit physically sharp, and probably a bit trite. The glaze job doesn't take as much advantage of the red clay it's on as it could. But it is a proper three finger mug, and you can use it without burning yourself.  There is a very subtle thumb spot on the top of the handle near the join that is smooth like a stone. It's a suggestion to use it, not a demand.  The edges of the handle are rounded, not sharp, and it's not too wide or too thick. And you would also never know any of that from the photo either. 

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I'm currently using and making handleless mugs...no pulling, extruding, or backfilling necessary and my customers seem to like them too!:)

JohnnyK

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