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nancylee

Need Handle Help

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Morning,

Just made a dozen mugs. I learned to make them with this handle tool, but I really didn't like them so I bought a handheld extruded (not the tiny one) and use one or two of the dies that came with it. But my handles don't come out of it solid all of the time. There are bubbles or gaps and I have to redo them. Or when I'm putting them on, even though I've allowed them to firm up a bit, when I'm attaching the top part, the bottom is wobbling all over, pulling the top off, etc., or doesn't feel totally smooth all the way down, like it feels bumpy in places. Off with it again, start over.

 

I can do a nice looking handle but it takes me forever. I'd love suggestions or videos to show how to load the extruder, smooth out the handles, firm them up and attach. Thanks!!!

Nancy

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pulling handles takes practice but it isn't that difficult.

Take a lump of clay the size of a dill pickle. smooth out any edges. Hold the top and dip your pulling hand in water and pull. Dip your hand for every pull or so. Think of milking a cow. Stretch the pulls gently and evenly. Get about a 12 inch strand and cut off section about 3 1/2 inches. Make as many as you can. Now  assuming the mugs are ready to go..stiff enough not to cave in, attach one section at a time using a wet finger on the place where the handle will go and on one end of the section. Now really push the end into the mug . smooth around the joint. hold the mug and finish pulling the handle til you have enough length. Bend it around and press the end into the mug. Let it set up upside down. Cover and let dry.

 

To practice first, throw a cylinder and attach as many handles as you can get onto the cylinder.

 

Marcia

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Hi Marcia,

Thank you very much for the instructions. Two things I'm unclear about:

 

- you are putting the handles on as soon as you pull them, very wet?

 

- the wet finger where the handle will go? That's on the inside of the mug, right?

 

Ok, a third question!

 

- you keep pulling after it's attached? I can see that this is where I'll run into,trouble. Isn't it flopping all over as you try to attach he the bottom?

 

Thank you, again!

Nancy

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- you are putting the handles on as soon as you pull them, very wet?

yes, but they are not goopy. Keep the pulls quick. don't soak the clay. Try to finish the shape in a few pulls.

- the wet finger where the handle will go? That's on the inside of the mug, right?

 

No. you wet the surface where the two pieces will be joined. you can score and dampen with a wet finger, or just with a wet finger. Then press the stub onto the mug backing the wall on the inside.

Ok, a third question! 

- you keep pulling after it's attached? I can see that this is where I'll run into,trouble. Isn't it flopping all over as you try to attach he the bottom?

 

Hold the mug and slowly turn it to meet the end of the handle. Use stiffer clay to avoid flopping and dip your hand in the water less often,  if you are getting the clay too wet to hold its shape. After attaching the end of the handle, jiggle it a little as the handle hangs from the side of the mug. You can gently correct the curve you want with your finger and then put it down to set up. Cover all of them with a plastic container and leave them alone until dry. Try making the handles before trimming. That will let then set up a bit. 

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I can't really add anything to what Marcia said, because she explained the process perfectly.

 

However, in regards to your extrusions, you can avoid the problem with the bubbles/ gaps, by wedging the clay before putting it in the extruder.  Otherwise, any trapped bubble will cause such weakness or breaks, in your extrusions.

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Here is my video how I make handles :D not with an extruder though.

 

I use my hand as a makeshift extruder to shape what I call a handle blank and then pull it to shape. Form it into the shape and then leave for at least a few hours for it to firm up.

 

 

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Morning,

Just made a dozen mugs. I learned to make them with this handle tool, but I really didn't like them so I bought a handheld extruded (not the tiny one) and use one or two of the dies that came with it. But my handles don't come out of it solid all of the time. There are bubbles or gaps and I have to redo them. Or when I'm putting them on, even though I've allowed them to firm up a bit, when I'm attaching the top part, the bottom is wobbling all over, pulling the top off, etc., or doesn't feel totally smooth all the way down, like it feels bumpy in places. Off with it again, start over.

 

I can do a nice looking handle but it takes me forever. I'd love suggestions or videos to show how to load the extruder, smooth out the handles, firm them up and attach. Thanks!!!

Nancy

 

 

I too struggle with handles.  My new method is to roll a coil, then flatten it using a piece of wood.  Then curl it into the shape I want and leave it to set up for a while.  I hate handle-making so much I've carved a curve into a slab of plaster to hold them in shape.  Photo on it's way.........

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Here is my video how I make handles :D not with an extruder though.

 

I use my hand as a makeshift extruder to shape what I call a handle blank and then pull it to shape. Form it into the shape and then leave for at least a few hours for it to firm up.

 

 

Great video - thanks!!! And lovely studio.

 

You are using slip to attach them? Then just wiping away the excess? Thanks!

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I can't really add anything to what Marcia said, because she explained the process perfectly.

 

However, in regards to your extrusions, you can avoid the problem with the bubbles/ gaps, by wedging the clay before putting it in the extruder.  Otherwise, any trapped bubble will cause such weakness or breaks, in your extrusions.

Thank you! I was putting in smaller balls of wedge clay - I need to put a big one in.

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Morning,

Just made a dozen mugs. I learned to make them with this handle tool, but I really didn't like them so I bought a handheld extruded (not the tiny one) and use one or two of the dies that came with it. But my handles don't come out of it solid all of the time. There are bubbles or gaps and I have to redo them. Or when I'm putting them on, even though I've allowed them to firm up a bit, when I'm attaching the top part, the bottom is wobbling all over, pulling the top off, etc., or doesn't feel totally smooth all the way down, like it feels bumpy in places. Off with it again, start over.

I can do a nice looking handle but it takes me forever. I'd love suggestions or videos to show how to load the extruder, smooth out the handles, firm them up and attach. Thanks!!!

Nancy

 

 

 

I too struggle with handles.  My new method is to roll a coil, then flatten it using a piece of wood.  Then curl it into the shape I want and leave it to set up for a while.  I hate handle-making so much I've carved a curve into a slab of plaster to hold them in shape.  Photo on it's way.........

 

Morning,

Just made a dozen mugs. I learned to make them with this handle tool, but I really didn't like them so I bought a handheld extruded (not the tiny one) and use one or two of the dies that came with it. But my handles don't come out of it solid all of the time. There are bubbles or gaps and I have to redo them. Or when I'm putting them on, even though I've allowed them to firm up a bit, when I'm attaching the top part, the bottom is wobbling all over, pulling the top off, etc., or doesn't feel totally smooth all the way down, like it feels bumpy in places. Off with it again, start over.

I can do a nice looking handle but it takes me forever. I'd love suggestions or videos to show how to load the extruder, smooth out the handles, firm them up and attach. Thanks!!!

Nancy

 

I'd love to see a picture of that! Thanks!

 

 

I too struggle with handles.  My new method is to roll a coil, then flatten it using a piece of wood.  Then curl it into the shape I want and leave it to set up for a while.  I hate handle-making so much I've carved a curve into a slab of plaster to hold them in shape.  Photo on it's way.........

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I use a Scott creek wall mounted extruder and a handle die for mine. I also use Little Loafers clay which can be touchy about cracking.

 

To help with the bubbles don't put pieces of clay in the extruder. What I mean is look at how big around your extruder opening is and cut a pug of clay to about this size then roll or tap it into the right shape that will slide into the extruder opening. Cut off the excess clay once you have fully loaded your extruder, don't piece your clay in as that creates bubbles and blank spaces.

 

Once you have extruded your handle lay the extrusion out on a table. Use a sponge to smooth out any obvious bulges or rough spots created from handling it. Then use a soft rubber rib to compress the surface. Now cut your extrusion to length and shape to the approximate shape you need for your mugs. Mine is a question mark kind of shape. Once shaped I lay on its side so when I am done with a bunch it looks like a line of question marks. Allow to firm up a bit, how long this takes depends on your humidity, etc etc etc. once it's firm enough to not flop around position against your mug cut the top and bottom angles, score both the mug and the handle, slip and attach. When you attach handle everything gently but firmly and position your hand inside the mug when you press to attach to the mug so you don't warp the mug.

 

I do an additional step some people don't do but then I do a lot of hand painting and clear glazing so am paranoid about failures after all that work. I also add a tiny coil of clay around the attachments. Clean everything up and wrap the mug in plastic overnight, or for a few hours at least with the mug sitting upside down. This lets gravity help keep your handle in the correct shape. Doing this also helps you see whether your handle sticks up above the rim, which for me is a no no as it make putting it upside to store or dry after using it impossible. The next day remove plastic and place on a wire shelf rim side down and leave it to dry. I also wrap my handles in plastic while drying the bodies since they dry faster and don't want to risk cracks.

 

My biggest issue with mugs is rushing and trying to add the handles too soon when the pieces have not firmed up enough. I am a very bad girl by doing this and the kiln sternly lets me know by causing the pieces to warp during the glaze firing, not even the bisque it waits until the glaze firing to give me sad funky shaped mug openings. So I have changed my working method and pull all my mug bodies and handles one day set in my damp boxes and assemble them another day. I am getting ready to make an even bigger damp box to store mug bodies so I can keep even more of them on hand ready to assemble. With a damp box I can store mug pieces for weeks while I assemble and paint without having to rush to get them made so I can decorate them. This falls under the "Terry Proofing" rule.

 

It sounds like you are trying really hard and I hope this helps you step back and take a look at how you can adjust your working method to correct the issues you are having. Good luck and it will come with practice and tweaks to your process.

 

Terry

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Pictures of Handle Moulds:

 

gallery_59202_704_9996.jpg

 

 gallery_59202_704_12869.jpg 

 

Carve shape to suit your design.  I spent ages getting the shape that suited the mug mould.  I'm going to carve another one out of the empty space.  (Should've planned this better instead of just plonking the first one anyhow and now trying to fit more around it.  I have three slip-cast handle moulds but don't like the shape/fatness of any of them.

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Over the years, I have made pulled handles, shaped and cut handles(ala John Glick), extruded handles, tool cut handles, and a variety of coil and slab handles. One of the first things that I found for all of this was that I keep a batch of extremely well wedged and aged clay for handles only. This clay is usually wedged over 300 turns, stored in tight plastic, and often rewedged 300 more before pulling any handles. As far as the cut handles or the extruded handles, I spray the inside of the extruder with a little soap foam before extruding for lubrication. I dip my cutting tools in a soap or hand cream and water solution before cutting. I find that using lugs of clay that are the length of the extruder or the 1/2 again as long as the handle length I need for a cut handle really helps. 

 

When pulling handles, I always would get a little bit of thicker end on the bottom of the pulled handle that I just pinched off after a few pulls. If not taken care of it would cause the handle to stress a bit and break.

 

Coil handles I will usually roll between two boards either textured or non textured. These will often not have the stability to bend as a pulled handle will, often getting stress cracks perpendicular to the length. I surmise that this is because the direction of the "making" of a pulled handle is along the length causing the particles to align in that direction. Where as the coil handle has particles that are aligned along the circumference of the coil. Thus bending the coil separates the alignment. Who knows?

 

 

best,

Pres 

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If I had an extruder I would extrude thick coils, attach them, then pull the handle from that thick coil. Since I don't, I just pull the handle from a lump of clay. The key to a beautiful handle is to pull it off the mug to remove any blemishes from the surface. If you don't do that, then you need to let the handle set up enough so that your fingers don't leave marks on the handle.

 

I will try to make a video of how I pull handles. I just combined like 10 methods from videos I watched all across the net. I will get it up in a few days. I don't have any mugs ready to add handles too.

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I use a Scott creek wall mounted extruder and a handle die for mine. I also use Little Loafers clay which can be touchy about cracking.

To help with the bubbles don't put pieces of clay in the extruder. What I mean is look at how big around your extruder opening is and cut a pug of clay to about this size then roll or tap it into the right shape that will slide into the extruder opening. Cut off the excess clay once you have fully loaded your extruder, don't piece your clay in as that creates bubbles and blank spaces.

Once you have extruded your handle lay the extrusion out on a table. Use a sponge to smooth out any obvious bulges or rough spots created from handling it. Then use a soft rubber rib to compress the surface. Now cut your extrusion to length and shape to the approximate shape you need for your mugs. Mine is a question mark kind of shape. Once shaped I lay on its side so when I am done with a bunch it looks like a line of question marks. Allow to firm up a bit, how long this takes depends on your humidity, etc etc etc. once it's firm enough to not flop around position against your mug cut the top and bottom angles, score both the mug and the handle, slip and attach. When you attach handle everything gently but firmly and position your hand inside the mug when you press to attach to the mug so you don't warp the mug.

I do an additional step some people don't do but then I do a lot of hand painting and clear glazing so am paranoid about failures after all that work. I also add a tiny coil of clay around the attachments. Clean everything up and wrap the mug in plastic overnight, or for a few hours at least with the mug sitting upside down. This lets gravity help keep your handle in the correct shape. Doing this also helps you see whether your handle sticks up above the rim, which for me is a no no as it make putting it upside to store or dry after using it impossible. The next day remove plastic and place on a wire shelf rim side down and leave it to dry. I also wrap my handles in plastic while drying the bodies since they dry faster and don't want to risk cracks.

My biggest issue with mugs is rushing and trying to add the handles too soon when the pieces have not firmed up enough. I am a very bad girl by doing this and the kiln sternly lets me know by causing the pieces to warp during the glaze firing, not even the bisque it waits until the glaze firing to give me sad funky shaped mug openings. So I have changed my working method and pull all my mug bodies and handles one day set in my damp boxes and assemble them another day. I am getting ready to make an even bigger damp box to store mug bodies so I can keep even more of them on hand ready to assemble. With a damp box I can store mug pieces for weeks while I assemble and paint without having to rush to get them made so I can decorate them. This falls under the "Terry Proofing" rule.

It sounds like you are trying really hard and I hope this helps you step back and take a look at how you can adjust your working method to correct the issues you are having. Good luck and it will come with practice and tweaks to your process.

Terry

Great information - thank you! Yes, I'm often trying to rush the process also. It always shows up, doesn't it?!?

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Pictures of Handle Moulds:

 

gallery_59202_704_9996.jpg

 

 gallery_59202_704_12869.jpg 

 

Carve shape to suit your design.  I spent ages getting the shape that suited the mug mould.  I'm going to carve another one out of the empty space.  (Should've planned this better instead of just plonking the first one anyhow and now trying to fit more around it.  I have three slip-cast handle moulds but don't like the shape/fatness of any of them.

Those are very cool! How ingenuous of you! Thank you for sharing,

Nancy

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If I had an extruder I would extrude thick coils, attach them, then pull the handle from that thick coil. Since I don't, I just pull the handle from a lump of clay. The key to a beautiful handle is to pull it off the mug to remove any blemishes from the surface. If you don't do that, then you need to let the handle set up enough so that your fingers don't leave marks on the handle.

 

I will try to make a video of how I pull handles. I just combined like 10 methods from videos I watched all across the net. I will get it up in a few days. I don't have any mugs ready to add handles too.

Joseph, can you give me a holler when you make that video? Thank you!

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Over the years, I have made pulled handles, shaped and cut handles(ala John Glick), extruded handles, tool cut handles, and a variety of coil and slab handles. One of the first things that I found for all of this was that I keep a batch of extremely well wedged and aged clay for handles only. This clay is usually wedged over 300 turns, stored in tight plastic, and often rewedged 300 more before pulling any handles. As far as the cut handles or the extruded handles, I spray the inside of the extruder with a little soap foam before extruding for lubrication. I dip my cutting tools in a soap or hand cream and water solution before cutting. I find that using lugs of clay that are the length of the extruder or the 1/2 again as long as the handle length I need for a cut handle really helps. 

 

When pulling handles, I always would get a little bit of thicker end on the bottom of the pulled handle that I just pinched off after a few pulls. If not taken care of it would cause the handle to stress a bit and break.

 

Coil handles I will usually roll between two boards either textured or non textured. These will often not have the stability to bend as a pulled handle will, often getting stress cracks perpendicular to the length. I surmise that this is because the direction of the "making" of a pulled handle is along the length causing the particles to align in that direction. Where as the coil handle has particles that are aligned along the circumference of the coil. Thus bending the coil separates the alignment. Who knows?best,

Pres

 

 

 Thanks, Pres! I need to get organized, because right now, I don't even have any place to wedge my clay. I'm just getting back into pottery, and need to figure out my space. The wedging sounds like that is what keeps it firm and from flopping all over. One question: when you are pulling handles, do you pull a lump of clay from the big wedge, or cut off the shape you want? Does manipulating it from a lump to a cool shape weaken it?

Thanks again,

Nancy

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Great video - thanks!!! And lovely studio.

 

You are using slip to attach them? Then just wiping away the excess? Thanks!

 

 

Yes, the same clay body made into a slip with 3%  Cobalt carbonate. I think in the video it is actually a blue stain which is why it looks so blue in raw format. I used to wipe away the excess slip and try to smooth it but that took forever. Now I add even more and leave the ooze out the sides as a lazy design decision. By the time it dries it give a nice 1mm-2mm thick border round the handle join.

 

I don't like pulling them all from a big lump, it takes more skill and strength than I want to give. The rough shaping at the beginning give me the best start I can get.

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I think everyone need to learn to pull handles.

I extrude mine now as they are stronger and faster to do .

You need a larger extruder than a chalk gun to do this well.

I just cut my pulled handle in 1/2 and made that shape from an aluminum die.

I have 4 sizes of handle dies for all mug sizes (one size does not fit all mugs)

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When pulling handles, I separate off about 2# of clay off of the larger hunk. Then I flop this on the table to get a rough prism shape of clay. Then I flop one of the sharp prism points to make an elongated trapezoid shape. Then by using my fingers and thumb I gradually change the prism shape to a handle sort of shape. Best to show a diagram from a handle pulling handout from about 2002.

 

 

post-894-0-12423700-1452454006_thumb.jpg

post-894-0-12423700-1452454006_thumb.jpg

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Hmmm, I "dry pull" my handles. A coil is made, tapped flat and stretched just a little. A slight relief pattern can be added. Then the best section is cut to length (calculated eyeball) and attached end is tapped a few times to be compact. Then on bases that sat two days in my damp cupboard, the base only is scored and given a drop of slip. The handle is attached so the handle stays hanging down (usually I can't see what I am doing on this step). I use a watery slip to pull the handle. Wet carefully and give a few smoothing pulls. Dry the hand and roll the mug over keeping the handle in alignment. The base is attached with two or three quick presses with a wooden knife. Make sure the handle is a nice shape and then set the mug upside-down for another day or two in the damp cupboard.

 

This way is not a very good way to start making handles. It allows for relief patterns and adapts to different mug shapes and sizes well. But it will have a low success rate unless down right the first time.

 

So the only aesthetic tip I will offer: Try to make your handles the same thickness as the wall of your piece. Beginners tend to make handles that are too thick for the mug.

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Just as a data point, the way I make handles is to pinch off a little ball of clay, and then roughly shape it with my fingertips into a straplike shape, sort of like half a diamond in cross-section.  This roughly-shaped handle will have a flattened larger end.  I scratch the mug where I intend to apply this thicker end, using a little water or slip, and then press the blank against the mug, sort of rubbing it in a little to make a good bond.  I hold the mug in my left hand so the blank hangs down vertically, wet my right hand with slip or water, and pull the handle in place.  Finally I lift the mug so that the handle assumes a nice curve, and press the lower part of the handle on to the lower part of the mug.  I try to not smear this lower join, so that there is a clear edge between pot and handle, because I think making the joins explicit creates a more interesting handle. Once the lower edge is well attached, I usually just pull the excess off and spread the join a bit so as to indicate a stronger attachment (this is purely visual, as handles almost never detach at the bottom.

 

 

post-65900-0-57180400-1452479938_thumb.jpg

post-65900-0-83548600-1452479938_thumb.jpg

post-65900-0-07458200-1452479939_thumb.jpg

post-65900-0-57180400-1452479938_thumb.jpg

post-65900-0-83548600-1452479938_thumb.jpg

post-65900-0-07458200-1452479939_thumb.jpg

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