I love coffee and I love coffee mugs but I disliked making Pottery handles.
Actually I like making Pottery Handles. I was taught the technique where you get a lump of clay really wet and you stroke it downward until it got long and skinny. You keep it wet and massage it long. I got pretty good at that part but the non-fun part started when I tried to put them on the mug. They were too wet, or the mug was too dry, or they were crooked on the mug, or the points where they attached looked bad… you beginners know what I mean and you experts got to remember back when.
Are you nodding in agreement with me yet?
While poking around the internet the other day I came across an article on Pottery Illustrated (which if you have not subscribed too as a potter, you should. You can subscribe from this link! Pottery Making Illustrated ) that really helped me make a better handle. The original article is here.
It is well written and great graphics but I changed a few things which worked better for me so I thought I would share with you how I did it. As you can see from the photo I made a GREAT handle using this technique. Not only did I make one but 4 during this learning time. None of them buggered up or fell off!!
I AM PUFFED WITH PRIDE.
MAKING THE COIL
The first thing I did was roll out a coil. I have read other instructions that say to roll a good coil use your palm but when I do that somehow my coil ends up as a cube. Reminds me of a flat spot on a tire that goes thump thump thump when you drive. For me to make a coil I had to use my finger tips. Once I got a fat coil going (about and inch thick) I cut it down to be a couple of about 4” pieces that I continued to roll out until it got to be the thickness of the handle I wanted.
Roll the Coil to about 7.5 inches long and whatever the diameter of your handle will be. I like mine to be about 1/2”
Once I got the right thickness I cut off the ends to make the coil about 7 1/2” long. As you can see from graphic 2 I did make it a little thinner in the middle and thicker on the ends as the original article stated but not as much.
I personally like my handles a little flat, if you don’t then don’t do this step.
Once you are happy with your coil throw it down hard on the table so that it hits lengthwise. This will cause it to flatten on one side. Pick it up and do it again on the other side. If you hold one end close to your table and “slap” the coil onto the table you can control it a little better.
Honestly, once I ended up with a triangle shape and I loved it so play around a bit. Be creative. Do it your way!
Using a damp sponge, run it up and down the coil. This smooth’s it out and helps you shape and adjust your handle. Do this on both sides. You don’t want your coil to get sopping wet so don’t over do it. While you are doing this look at your coil critically. What side is the best side.
Turn your coil over so the underneath side of the handle is facing up. This is the side you don’t really see so make sure this is the crappiest side! As described in the original article, get your long, thin metal rib, bend it so that the ends almost meet and, using the flat side and going in at a 45 degree angle cut the coil at the top (where the coil will join the top of the coffee mug) . I have got to say, I thought this was the coolest idea from the original article. This will cause your rib to never be straight again so bear that in mind! Fortunately I have two of these ribs, once which I have permanently relegated to the task of coffee mug handle curve cutter!