Handle It

Adding handles to mugs, tea cups, tea pots, or any other functional object can seem daunting. There are a variety of potential processes available which can seem overwhelming. Also, adding the handle at just the right dryness can be difficult to determine for both the handle and the base.

Personally, I like the aesthetic and feel of a pulled handle. However I also have a very specific system to making my handles. First, I take my clay and wedge it to avoid any air bubbles. Then I roll the clay bit into a carrot shape. This shape makes it easier to pull, but I also find that it allows for more control of the taper without having to spend as much time pulling. (Less time pulling also means that you will use less water, and the handle will be drier faster which is something to consider.) Next, I compare the carrot shape to the vessel size and determine if it is close to the appropriate thickness. Yet, be certain to make the cylindrical form slightly larger than the intended final thickness. Once I am satisfied I dip the future handle into a bowl of water once, then pull the carrot into a elongated oval shape with as few pulls as possible. I then lay out the shape on a table and wait a few minutes, moving the handle so as to avoid fusing to the table and cracking.

With my final shape, I then cut the appropriate length and slip and score both sides. At this point I apply light pressure as I attach the top of the handle. Then I use water to pull the length of the handle two or three more times before shaping it however I wish. This allows me to have a lot of control of the shape and curve of the handle. After some pressure to each end, my handle is attached!

When I am particularly specific, I also like to add slip around each point of contact. I then dry the vessel slowly in a wet box before cleaning up the attachment points with a soft sponge. This guarantees a tight and well crafted hold.

Below I've added examples of pulled handles I've created. If you have any questions about this, or any past processes, please don't hesitate to ask!


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