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What are your tips and tricks for getting the best handle?

 

My technique right now is to roll out a thickish coil and then pull a nice handle from there, they all look very nice until I attempt to stick them onto the mug angry.gif that is where it all starts to go wrong. I cross hatch etc. but cant seem to get a nice blend between mug and handle, some turn out good by mistake while the rest look amateur sad.gif

 

Maybe I am just looking for too much and should just keep practicing until I am a competent 'handler'

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I learned this from Tony Clennell's dvd on handlemaking ... the top attachment point of a pulled handle needs to be "meaty." So when you are rolling out and pulling your handle, make it much thicker at the top, and have it taper quickly into the normal handle width. It takes a lot of extra clay to make a good-looking attachment. If you have too much, you can always scrape off the extra. When I see student-made handles, the top attachment point often looks like the potter "ran out of clay."

 

Here's a photo from my gallery, you can see the "meaty" top point of my mug handles:

http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/gallery/image/3774-three-mugs/

 

Once my students asked if I could use a vegetarian-friendly word instead of "meaty." We tried to figure out a new word but couldn't. The right word is "meaty."

 

Mea

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What are your tips and tricks for getting the best handle?

 

My technique right now is to roll out a thickish coil and then pull a nice handle from there, they all look very nice until I attempt to stick them onto the mug angry.gif that is where it all starts to go wrong. I cross hatch etc. but cant seem to get a nice blend between mug and handle, some turn out good by mistake while the rest look amateur sad.gif

 

Maybe I am just looking for too much and should just keep practicing until I am a competent 'handler'

 

 

Just keep on making more handles. It's hackneyed advice but true: Practice Practice Practice. Nothing identifies a potter as a beginner quicker than a handle that looks like some kind of tortured worm. Also look at other handles on pots in good galleries and juried shows. For mugs there's one-finger handles, two-finger handles, 3 or more finger-handles, handles that are blend into the mug or show off the attachment point, bone-shaped handles, handles molded from the pot, etc, etc. There's nothing wrong with copying somebody's handle then making it your own by practicing.

 

Jim

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I do try and make the top meaty, (for your vegetarian student 'stumpy' or 'rooty') I guess my problem is with the blending of the top. I pull the handles. Then shape and leave to dry because otherwise I end up breaking them. I still have a few die.

 

I was looking for a nice video I watched. But I couldn't find it, discovered a better one.

 

 

 

 

This guy really inspires me but I am a million miles away from his level. Never seen a handle attached then pulled again.

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I want to recall Tony Clennell saying his Uncle Jimmy had him make 300 handles one afternoon . . . and by number 300 he had it down. Tony says making handles is harder than throwing pots. His influences on handles were Michael Cardew (handles should have a backbone) and Linda Christianson. Tony's DVD on handles is great and he shows options to pulling.

 

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-art-and-artists/functional-pottery/handle-pulling-video-tony-clennell-demonstrates-how-to-pull-great-looking-handles-for-pottery/

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I do try and make the top meaty, (for your vegetarian student 'stumpy' or 'rooty') I guess my problem is with the blending of the top.

 

 

Who says you need to blend? I round off the cut edges at the top of my handle, then attach without blending it in. I really like the way glazes catch in the seam.

 

If you would really prefer a blended attachment, can you provide more info? Such as, describe your technique, are you using tools, how much time do you spend? Can you post a picture of a handle you are not happy with?

 

Mea

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Never seen a handle attached then pulled again.

 

 

I've never seen a good handle that wasn't attached then pulled again. Steven Hill blends his handles in nicely. Just off the top of my head, some of the nicest handles I can think of are Matt Long's. Then again, like everything else in pottery, the beauty of a handle is subjective. That guy that you say really inspires you makes really ugly handles imho.

 

Jim

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I start with a carrot, slightly flattened into an oval. The thick end width is approx 1/3 the width of the top of the mug. I attach, without blending, making sure not to square off the attachment area. Keep it round. Then I pull till it's just about the same thickness as the lip of the pot. It should taper quickly at first, to give a good natural curve off the mug. Any thicker and it looks way to thick. The width gives it the appropriate mass to look sturdy, but's it's thin enough that it doesn't overpower the pot.

 

Do a couple hundred and you'll get the hang of it. Seriously. I takes a lot of practice.

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I've never seen a good handle that wasn't attached then pulled again. Steven Hill blends his handles in nicely. Just off the top of my head, some of the nicest handles I can think of are Matt Long's. Then again, like everything else in pottery, the beauty of a handle is subjective. That guy that you say really inspires you makes really ugly handles imho.

 

Jim

 

 

Yes I agree with you that his handles are ugly but I cannot fault him on his techniques.

 

Looks like I have managed to miss educating myself properly in how to attach and pull a handle. When taught by my college tutor I was not told to pull it once attached to the mug.

I am not blending with any aesthetic purpose, just thought that was needed to securely attach the handle.

My technique is to use my fingers and try my best to blend the top of the handle into the body. I find my shapes and thickness are quite pleasing. Then mess it up using my fingers. Going to attach some handles today without blending and see how they go biggrin.gif

 

A big thank you for all your help.

 

Here is a picture of my first attempts at handles, not great quality but it gives the general idea.

(I cannot seem to attach images angry.gif Here is a link, https://fbcdn-sphoto...832532631_n.jpg )

 

EDIT : two more pictures http://i48.tinypic.com/2s97ouv.jpg http://i46.tinypic.com/2ziosnr.jpg

 

 

 

 

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I've never seen a good handle that wasn't attached then pulled again. Steven Hill blends his handles in nicely. Just off the top of my head, some of the nicest handles I can think of are Matt Long's. Then again, like everything else in pottery, the beauty of a handle is subjective. That guy that you say really inspires you makes really ugly handles imho.

 

Jim

 

 

Yes I agree with you that his handles are ugly but I cannot fault him on his techniques.

 

Looks like I have managed to miss educating myself properly in how to attach and pull a handle. When taught by my college tutor I was not told to pull it once attached to the mug.

I am not blending with any aesthetic purpose, just thought that was needed to securely attach the handle.

My technique is to use my fingers and try my best to blend the top of the handle into the body. I find my shapes and thickness are quite pleasing. Then mess it up using my fingers. Going to attach some handles today without blending and see how they go biggrin.gif

 

A big thank you for all your help.

 

Here is a picture of my first attempts at handles, not great quality but it gives the general idea.

(I cannot seem to attach images angry.gif Here is a link, https://fbcdn-sphoto...832532631_n.jpg )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those handles are pretty bad. It really is just a matter of practice. You may be frustrating yourself by over thinking it and expecting too much at the beginning. One of the best things about pottery is that sometimes you can't even see how bad something is until you improve and then make something that makes you look at what you've made before and go "Holy crap that sucks!" No matter what advice you get here or how many videos you watch, there's no shortcut. You've just got to make hundreds of handles before they stop sucking. Take a look at the handle on one of the cups here http://www.fullvictory.com/gallery.html. His early handles probably looked like yours.

 

Jim

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I learned from my classmate who was Byron Temple's apprentice. I pull one very long even handle. Lay it on a table, cut it into sat 12 even segments. Then, attach and pull each segment from a mug.

Another methd just for practise was to pull as many handles off a cylinder as possible. It may still take 1000 handles to get it right.

 

Marcia

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I am not blending with any aesthetic purpose, just thought that was needed to securely attach the handle.

 

 

This is a common fallacy. The blending really has nothing to do with a secure attachment. A strong attachment is made when there is enough water in the equation, and lots of good pressure when you press the two pieces together.

 

I teach visible seam handles in order to demonstrate that the blending doesn't really do anything. I think student potters overwork their attachments when they feel insecure. "Today we are going to attach handles with nothing but water, pressure, and confidence."

 

My critique of your handles ... they need to be even meatier at the top, and you have overworked the blending, creating dents with your fingers. The dents are the main problem for me. Try not to overblend, or not to blend at all. I also think you should try pulling the handle a little more after the attachment. If you make any unwanted finger dents, it only takes a few swipes to make the handle look fresh again. Try it!

 

If you want the most practice in the least amount of time, make octo-mugs. Throw one mug and attach as many handles as you can, until you run out of room. Repeat. Repeat. Etc. Of course these creatures of the deep should be returned to their natural habitat, the recycle bucket.

 

Mea

 

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I wet a 6 inch wide board with a sponge. I then pull a series of "plugs". Slightly thicker at the close end. Almost twice as thick. I then score the rim of the mug with my thumb nail and apply slip from the rim of the ice cream pail of water I have been using to pull the half handle plug.Lifting the plug in one hand, ran it into the side of the pot. And I mean RAM.Slip should goosh out. Take your thumb and round the edge where handle joined pot.Lift mug into the air horizontally and pull handle from the pot. Drop mug down onto a table-I usually work from a banding wheel. Ley handle drop into a natural curve and press in. No scoring or slip required here. Clean up with a sponge, and place upside down on the board. Go to the next one.
You could throw a bunch of cylinders and put four handles on each for practice. It really just takes practice.
Check out my gallery site to see a teapot with a handle viewed from the side. There is a board of teapots there waiting to have handles applied.
TJR.

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Back when I struggled with handles (not so much anymore thank goodness!) I picked up a few good tips from "The Ceramics Bible" by Louisa Taylor. She covers several ways of making handles and its a fun book to look at.

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So, what would you guys recommend for a double-ended handle?  Not sure what else to call it.  But one like this, thick on both ends:

 

il_570xN.319016811.jpg

[Ryan Strobel]

 

or these:

 

http://twopotters.com/blog/expect-the-unexpected/img_6406/

 

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/315252042638813812/

 

Is it just a matter of pulling a very short bit, leaving a lug on the end as well as the top?  I understand the concept of back-filling, but these are not that sort of technique, no?  How in the world would you pull something like that off the pot?

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So, what would you guys recommend for a double-ended handle?

 

How in the world would you pull something like that off the pot?

 

 

Short answer, don't. For those, a good thumb tap plumps up the ends.

 

And pulling handles off the pot is an extra step that eats up time, especially for production work. I've started attaching the "meaty" end to the bottom of the pot, pretty much making pitcher handles for mugs.

 

Also, practice never hurts, but as previously suggested, replicating will teach you more and faster than repeating mistakes. Don't ever brute force handle-making without evaluating in between and trying to produce a specific type of handle. Brute forcing it is essentially repeating the same task and expecting "the magic" to fall in your lap. (Learn from your labor).

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I really don't do a whole lot of production work, but used to do handles on mugs about 20/hr. Nowdays, I know I am much slower, but still can get 15 in an hour. I pull my handles off of a large lump that has been coned then slammed into a tapered coil about 4" in diameter at the top to two inches at the bottom. The shape is also trapezoidal in cross section to make a double ribbed handle while pulling. I then pull a long piece for a handle, and cut at a near 90 degrees. This I push onto prescored and magic water areas on the mug. Then I use a round wooden dowel or fettling knife handle to round in the top inside of the handle into the pot and firm up the join. The bottom edge of the handle I add a small extruded coil into the little gap, and blend with a small dowel. I then add thumb and edge balls at the top and blend them using tools and my thumb. Last movement is to use a wet finger on the inside of the curve of the handle to shape it to an even curve.

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When I pull handles from now on, I will remember Mea - ty. Can't help myself, my puns are as bad as some of my handles! Thanks, Mea, for the encouragement and great instruction you give all of us who are learning!  :lol:

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If you want the most practice in the least amount of time, make octo-mugs. Throw one mug and attach as many handles as you can, until you run out of room. Repeat. Repeat. Etc. Of course these creatures of the deep should be returned to their natural habitat, the recycle bucket.

 

 

 

That's exactly what my first pottery instructor told me..except I kept the first octo-mug that I made! It's quite the conversation piece. I wish I could take better pictures though.

 

-Ria

 

151074_466617816058_799110_n.jpg

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When I first learned to pull handles, I snuck into the studio on a weekend and pulled over 150 handles and attached them to anything they would attach to. Sink table legs, splash boards, claybuckets and such. Cleaned most of them up, but left some of the better ones just sitting around with plastic laying over them. Yep Monday morning they were there to be found. . . that is another story!

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To the original poster:

I, too, have been always unhappy with my handles, and they have always had some of the same issues as you - too thin at the top, too much smushing and working.

 

I've spent the past few days absolutely immersing myself in handles. Obsessing about it, really. Staring, studying, analyzing photos of handles I love. Watching gobs of videos. Reading so many words of advice.

 

And practicing. I only pulled maybe 50 handles in the past two days, but the ones near the end, the ones I just attached - they're the best handles I've ever made, in about seven years of trying. They're certainly nowhere near where they need to be - but they're the first I've ever made that don't make me angry!

 

It really can be done. And I really do think it's not just about practicing. Analyzing pots as I drifted off to sleep, dreaming about that perfect handle, visualizing it before I headed to the workshop ... All of it is working. It's working!

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Hey,

 

     I found cutting corners just doesn't work for me.  My theory of handles is that if they separate from the cup, they will do so while they're being used.

We were taught at Auburn in Montgomery to wedge a unit of clay, drop it on a table about 45 degrees to elongate it, and then start pulling.  Start at

the bottom and pull a handle long enough to fit the vessel, cut it off, place it on a flat surface, and pull another, etc.  Pull more handles than you need

and pick out the best ones to apply.  Pull the handles first, then trim the vessel, and then attach the handle.  I attach handles by cutting off any excess length

and score horizonal lines (not crosshatch) on the vessel and horizonal lines on the handle, apply alittle slip then attach the two together.  Once the handle is attached, I take a needle tool and work the handle clay into the body of the vessel, then I smooth all around the conections.  When the vessels are  bone dry

I take a dry Scotchbrite pad and wipe any sharp edges.

 

      I know an elderly potter who is a legend  in his own mind who prefers to throw a ring on the wheel cut it into sections and trys to attach this to

his pottery.  (It looks awful) and when we suggest pulled handles he balks at the idea.  He's they type where you shouldn't confuse him with the facts,

because his mind is made up. 

 

     Look at other peoples handles.  I look thru alot of pottery books from 1100 A.D to 1800 A.D. and take mental notes on the handles AND the forms

they're attached to.  You should see that there are many kinds of handles and that vessel forms will dictate what handle does best.

Take care, and good luck...

Alabama

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      I know an elderly potter who is a legend  in his own mind who prefers to throw a ring on the wheel cut it into sections and trys to attach this to

his pottery.  (It looks awful) and when we suggest pulled handles he balks at the idea.  He's they type where you shouldn't confuse him with the facts,

because his mind is made up. 

 

Alabama

I prefer a good pulled handle, but I've definitely seen handle made other ways, that I absolutely love. Extruded handles, not only allow for quicker production, but offer shapes that would be difficult, if not impossible, to do any other way. The thrown ring you mentioned, also offers some unique benefits, like throwing a design into the shape of the handle, that would be time consuming to replicate, by pulling. This method is also great for making handles/ lugs for casseroles, or similar forms.

 

To me, every handle creation method has its merits.

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I like the carved handles that John Glick was doing a few years back. I also like using hand made cutters for cutting through a thick well wedged block. However, there is nothing that really beats a nicely pulled and attached handle on most items.

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I've never seen a good handle that wasn't attached then pulled again. Steven Hill blends his handles in nicely. Just off the top of my head, some of the nicest handles I can think of are Matt Long's. Then again, like everything else in pottery, the beauty of a handle is subjective. That guy that you say really inspires you makes really ugly handles imho.

 

Jim

Yes I agree with you that his handles are ugly but I cannot fault him on his techniques.

 

Looks like I have managed to miss educating myself properly in how to attach and pull a handle. When taught by my college tutor I was not told to pull it once attached to the mug.

I am not blending with any aesthetic purpose, just thought that was needed to securely attach the handle.

 

 

Here is a picture of my first attempts at handles, not great quality but it gives the general idea.

(I cannot seem to attach images angry.gifHere is a link, https://fbcdn-sphoto...832532631_n.jpg )

 

EDIT : two more pictures http://i48.tinypic.com/2s97ouv.jpg http://i46.tinypic.com/2ziosnr.jpg

 

Hit the More reply options lower fight near the POST button

I think that ,yes practice makes it happen, but also observing lots of vessels and noting where the handles are attached and how the negative space that the handles enclose relates to the bodies of the pots. Quiet handles, or handles that make a statement, heavy pot, light pot.pouring or to be sipped from. Strength required to lift the vessel, and pour from it.

IMO all of these and more would affect the choice of handle you make, and how you make it.

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