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request info regarding teapot handles- long answer

updated sat 31 may 97


Shauna Mulvihill on thu 15 may 97

James Estes wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> Would anyone have information on making your own bamboo teapot handles?
> I would appreciate any information on techniques, materials and suppliers
> of bamboo and wrapping materials used in the making of teapot handles.
> Jim Estes

I asked a similar question and was answered both privately and on the
list. Here is all of the info I have-- there is much. Hope this helps.


I expect wisteria, which likes a lot of water, might not be
available in the Mojave unless someone is nurturing it in a
garden. Which they might well be; if there is a garden club
anywhere around, you might call one of the members and ask if
they know of any wisteria. It grows really frantically, so
usually if someone has some they won't mind to let you cut some
of the vine.

Grapevines might or might not be a problem. Wild grape tends to
grow wherever there are trees...mmmmh, the Mojave. Honeysuckle
grows most everywhere, though, along roadsides, edges of waste
land, along fence has a pale yellow or deep orange
flower, the pale yellow has a wonderfully sweet smell. None of
the above vines has thorns. Wild rose will work, also, but
is REALLY thorny; you have to cut the vine and then "de-thorn"
it to use. All of those vines I cut green, as they are easier
to use then.

Bamboo is too difficult to bend unless you buy it already bent.
Various woods - you have to have something flexible enough to
bend without breaking. Soaking for long periods in water will
often soften wood. Wild willow is flexible without soaking;
everything else - soak for days, and then sometimes it will not
do what you wish. You must experiment. Grasses are the easiest,
and can be bound with additional grasses. This can be done
green, allowed to dry after shaping.

I have seen all kinds of metal handles, though I do not know a
source for them. I have made metal ones from re-bar, which
bends easily. But those must be coated with varathane or
something, because they rust quickly and badly. I like the look,

I much prefer either a graceful pulled handle or something
organic, usually.

You'll have a good time exploring this. Since you live in the
Mojave (where in the Mojave?) you will have unusual things to
choose from. It will take some hunting.

Dannon Rhudy



"The Japanese Pottery Handbook" by Penny Simpson and Kanji Sodeoka"...
....there are a
couple of pages devoted to handles, pp 96 through 99. The page that
shows the vine(reed) handle has some wonderful illustrations. If this
book is not available to you through your library, might want to pick up
a copy through Bailey's. Their number is 1-800-431-6067; the item is
C-300-111; cost is $18.00 before a 20% discount. And, as a student you
might get a better deal...although there is probably a shipping charge
for the book. This is really a wonderful book with descriptions and
diagrams of LOTS of great tools made from bamboo and other interesting
"stuff". (isbn 0-87011-373-9)





Try using reed....sizes 4 (2 3/4mm) and 2 (1 3/4mm)...can puchase from
the H.H. Perkins Co.
10 S. Bradley Rd.
Woodbridge, Conn. 06525
(203) 389-4011

$7.95/bunch (size 4 bunch = 500 ft; size 2 bunch = 1100 ft.)

The process [Louise Harter adn McKenzie Smith] used to make handles is
as follows:

1. For ea handle, use two size 4 reeds and one size 2 -- THREE TOTAL
reeds (can make adjustment based on size of lugs, however).

2. Soak reeds at least over night so they are flexible. Sometimes
reeds may have splits near middle of strand so it is wise to soak more
than you need in the event that you get a split in an unfortunate spot.

3. Begin w/ size 4; wrap reed back and forth thru lugs making sure not
to twist the reed. In order to gage the best handle fit to the pot, you
may want to use your index finger to gage the height of the handle to
the top of the teapot lid. This will allow the user to hold the lid on
while poring tea. However, size of the handle is relative to how you
want it to look.

BEFORE starting with the second reed, cut two inches off the reed and
set aside for final wrap w/ smaller reed.

4. If the size of lugs support wrapping another reed, can do that OR
you can simply fold the second reed to the approx. length (should be
slightly shorter for asthetics) and place on top of the first reed.
This, of course, is where it is handy to have a third hand. Often this
is not an option, what I've found works, is using plastic bag ties to
hold the "to be" handle in place for the final reed wrap.

5. Smaller reed (size 2) is begun at the base of one lug. It is
important to begin the reed in such a way that the reed will hold tight
to the initial start. The physics is not unlike that of a rope-
something like a clove hitch with the start buried in the folds of the
larger reeds.

6. Again, it is important not to twist the reed but to keep it in the
same plane as you tightly wrap, at the base of the lug, around the
bundle of handle. Both Louise and McKenzie placed each revolution of
the reed close to one another for a good two inches up the reed handle
bunch. Then kept the tension on the reed relative to the handle but
allowed the reed to spiral around the handle until reaching the same
point above the second lug.

7. Before beginning the decent of tightly wrapped reed to the last lug,
or shortly after, McKenzie used the short piece of the size 4 reed as a
space saver in the bundle of the handle for the final clove hitch.
Place the short piece in the base of handle for the final clove hitch.
Place the short piece in the base of handle bundle and continue to wrap
to the point where you want to end the wrap. After tightening anmd
making the clove hitch, remove the short piece of the larger reed and
shove the tail of the smaller reed into the space created by the larger

Generally, when the handles dry they are really great and sturdy. They
are also quite inexpensive to make except for your time.




If you have accesss to a wisteria vine, you can cut vines in the fall,
let them dry out over a period of months, and then soak them and weave
your own handles...Elca
Branman Potters



Grapevine can make good handles... many grasses woven or bound together
can be used, other kinds of vines, certain woods. I find it useful to
choose vines when they are green and flexible, give them an approximate
curve and length, let them dry. Or, if right season, you can attach
them green to pots, let them dry on the pot itself. In that case, you
have to think about shrinkage, so that the handle does not appear flimsy
or inadequate after it has dried. Wisteria and honeysuckle vines can be
woven or bound also; they are extremely flexible and in that sense easy
to use.

Dannon Rhudy



You can purchase bamboo from Butler Box & Stake, Inc
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(800) 666-0606

They sell bamboo in many sizes. For more info, see "Building with
Bamboo", Sunset Magazine, July 1994, p. 86.

Jim Horvitz
Rancho Mirage, CA



For a beautiful example of (I think handmade) handle check out this
guy's teapot at

His name is James Sleeper. I wrote his a letter inquiring about the
handle, but he never responded. If he ever does, I will let you know.

Also, if you need anyone's email address who sent the above info, let me
know. You may want to write them with specific questions.

Good Luck,

Shauna in the Mohave where it is 100 degrees