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Putting Handles on Mugs

Drying pulled handles for mugs by Holly Gonnella

Well, I thought I would finally get around to making some pottery that weighs more than 4 grams. It seems like all the pottery that I have made this year has been beads. Hundreds of them. But Christmas is coming and it’s time to fire up the old pottery wheel. The most beloved pottery item ever (in my booth) is the simple and useful mug.

We all love our favorite mug…the one we use first when we unload the dishwasher. I strive to make that mug. Does anyone recall that Sienfield episode about his t-shirt that he calls “blue boy”?  This is his favorite shirt, and he always wears it first out of the laundry. I think blue-boy goes missing in that episode.

Here are a few pictures showing my process for getting the handles on my mugs.

Drying pulled handles for mugs by Holly Gonnella

I always pull my handles from clay that has set up a bit. I pull them, and then let them set up in the “handle” shape that I want. The mugs will already be rather stiff, having been thrown earlier in the day. When you attach two different clay parts, it sure helps if they are close to the same water content.

Attached wet pottery handle by Holly Gonnella

I admit to skipping ahead here. I “slipped and scored” as we call it, and got it stuck on the pot. Notice that the bottom of the handle is off to the left. This is because the pot unwinds, in the opposite direction than it’s thrown.  It is hard to believe, but this handle will be straight in the end. I don’t even have to think about getting the handle angle just right anymore…it is body memory at this point. The longer the handle, the more crooked it needs to go on. The pots are moving around in the firings…aaahhh! Luckily for all potters, they are shrinking at the same time…this beautiful little fact is what saves all the pottery from being stuck together and ruined. Well, a lot gets ruined anyway but not for that reason.

Attaching handles on mugs by holly gonnella

I will clean this up a bit with a sponge. This is the most simple kind of handle to attach. I always take my finger and refine the inside curve. I want it just a bit lovely.

Rack of drying pottery by Holly Gonnellla

I love it when their done and drying on the shelf.  I take care of them like babies, by covering them the first night with plastic sheet. Porcelain will tend to crack if it dries too fast. These handles look way too fat, but this clay body shrinks a lot. In the end they will still be a little bit thick…but they will be functional and feel good in the hand. Someday when they break, it is probably not going to be the handle.

Thanks so much for visiting, Holly

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