search  current discussion  categories  forms - handles 

improving handles?

updated sat 19 aug 06

 

Gay Judson on thu 10 aug 06


I just viewed Tony's new DVD "Get a Handle on It" and am inspired to do more
handle work. He makes it look so simple and has some nice handle shapes to
suggest. I think it might be just what you are looking for!
Gay Judson in San Antonio, TX

Dave Finkelnburg on thu 10 aug 06


Randy,
Sorry about my clumsy fingers...here's the rest of
the biased opinions I have.
First, the specific dimensions of any
handle...thickness, length, etc, should be appropriate
for the piece the handle is applied to. In other
words, handle dimensions are strictly a function of
the pot. Thick pot...thick handle, etc.
Proportions...relation of handle to pot...that's
more a design issue. The negative space enclosed by
the handle is the best place to concentrate. A very
vertical vessel, for example, may call for a somewhat
vertical space, where a wide vessel may call for a
wide space. Or...you may want to disrupt the vertical
or horizontal element with the negative space. Just
try to think about how those work together, and make
your choices. In general, the most common error I see
is to leave too much negative space relative to the
size of the vessel.
At the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles I saw an
exhibit of cups and the variety of handles was
incredible. These were obviously carefully selected,
but what struck me was that handles from a standard,
hefty, 3-finger-inside mug handle, to a washer you
couldn't get one finger in, all worked...because they
were appropriate to the piece.
I like cup handles that, for functional reasons,
push your top finger out from the cup at least
slightly. And I prefer cup handles that don't rise
above the rim...again for function.
Whether to make a handle you extrude, slip cast,
roll, cut from a slab, press mold, pull on or off the
vessel, forming method does not matter. How the
handle looks and functions does.
And do watch out for the handle police! They are
more than a filament of my imagination! :-)
Good potting,
Dave Finkelnburg

--- Randy McCall wrote:
> I need to work on improving my pitcher and coffee
> mug handles.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Dave Finkelnburg on thu 10 aug 06


Randy,
There are some very hard and fast rules regarding
handles. Follow them precisely or proceed at your
peril! The handle police will catch you!!

Look at the space inside the handle.

--- Randy McCall wrote:

> I need to work on improving my pitcher and coffee
> mug handles. I tend to
> get too thin and non symetrical. Have extruder, but
> I like pulled handles
> better unless there are some ideas I can use with
> the extruder.
>
> Are there any specific dimensions I need to go by?
> Pictures of the perfect
> handle out there?
>
> I know pull a thousand.........but I want to get the
> end picture first.
>
> Got some ideas from Mel at the Florence conference
> on sizing and measuring.
> Anything else out there?
>
>
> Randy
> South Carolina
> Pottery Web site
>
> http://members.tripod.com/~McCallJ/index.html
>
>
______________________________________________________________________________
> Send postings to clayart@lsv.ceramics.org
>
> You may look at the archives for the list or change
> your subscription
> settings from http://www.ceramics.org/clayart/
>
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be
> reached at melpots@pclink.com.
>


__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Randy McCall on thu 10 aug 06


I need to work on improving my pitcher and coffee mug handles. I tend to
get too thin and non symetrical. Have extruder, but I like pulled handles
better unless there are some ideas I can use with the extruder.

Are there any specific dimensions I need to go by? Pictures of the perfect
handle out there?

I know pull a thousand.........but I want to get the end picture first.

Got some ideas from Mel at the Florence conference on sizing and measuring.
Anything else out there?


Randy
South Carolina
Pottery Web site

http://members.tripod.com/~McCallJ/index.html

Ann Brink on thu 10 aug 06


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Finkelnburg"
.
> And do watch out for the handle police! They are
> more than a filament of my imagination! :-)
> Good potting,
> Dave Finkelnburg
>
.....filament- is that kind of like a "figment"?

Ann Brink in Lompoc CA, spending time on inconsequential things- it's late.

ekrieger on thu 10 aug 06


Randy:

Order Tony's new video. Can't think of a better place to start trying to
improve handle making technique.

I just got my copy last week and have watched the thing about five times.
And, I've been making handles for pots for better than 25 years.

Eddie Krieger
Abilene, Tx
----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy McCall"
To:
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 7:41 AM
Subject: Improving Handles?


>I need to work on improving my pitcher and coffee mug handles. I tend to
> get too thin and non symetrical. Have extruder, but I like pulled handles
> better unless there are some ideas I can use with the extruder.
>
> Are there any specific dimensions I need to go by? Pictures of the
> perfect
> handle out there?
>
> I know pull a thousand.........but I want to get the end picture first.
>
> Got some ideas from Mel at the Florence conference on sizing and
> measuring.
> Anything else out there?
>
>
> Randy
> South Carolina
> Pottery Web site
>
> http://members.tripod.com/~McCallJ/index.html
>
> ______________________________________________________________________________
> Send postings to clayart@lsv.ceramics.org
>
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from http://www.ceramics.org/clayart/
>
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at
> melpots@pclink.com.
>

Elizabeth Priddy on thu 10 aug 06


I think your own aesthetic is the only thing you can
trust.

Go here and look intil you decide what you want to be
doing.

When you see what you want to be doing, the answer
will fall out quickly.

http//www.mugheaven.com

E

Elizabeth Priddy

Beaufort, NC - USA
http://www.elizabethpriddy.com

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Dave Finkelnburg on fri 11 aug 06


Ann,
There are...of course...handle police...and, there
are also...word police. It's kind of fun at times to
toss out a word that isn't necessarily wrong...but
certainly isn't right...usage could be argued over,
etc.
It's a little like throwing a grasshopper onto the
surface of a deep pool in a clear stream. The insect
twitches a little, once...twice, rings appear from the
movement, traveling over the surface of the pond.
Perhaps a big trout rises to take the bait...
Tossing out one of those words is sort of like
that. Dangle the word just so and then wonder, are
there any word police around, if there are will they
even notice the bait, if they do, will they rise to
it??? :-)
Good potting,
Dave Finkelnburg, making hardwood throwing
ribs and wondering what's the best wood, whether
treating them with tung oil would be good or
bad...having found the right shape of rib is a great
aid in reproducing a desired curve in a set of pots...

--- Ann Brink <> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dave Finkelnburg"
> > And do watch out for the handle police! They
> are
> > more than a filament of my imagination! :-)
> .....filament- is that kind of like a "figment"?
>
> Ann Brink in Lompoc CA, spending time on
> inconsequential things- it's late.


__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Ron Roy on fri 11 aug 06


Hi Randy,

Best thing is to pick up lots of pots - especially mugs - start with the
ones you have - you will begin to descriminate about which ones feel right
- even to the point of which glazes feel the best - all part of the problem
to be solved.

Once you get the functional part figured out then concentrate on the look.

Just remember - if you want them to reach for yours every time - get the
handle right.

RR


>I need to work on improving my pitcher and coffee mug handles. I tend to
>get too thin and non symetrical. Have extruder, but I like pulled handles
>better unless there are some ideas I can use with the extruder.
>
>Are there any specific dimensions I need to go by? Pictures of the perfect
>handle out there?
>
>I know pull a thousand.........but I want to get the end picture first.
>
>Got some ideas from Mel at the Florence conference on sizing and measuring.
>Anything else out there?
>
>
>Randy


Ron Roy
RR#4
15084 Little Lake Road
Brighton, Ontario
Canada
K0K 1H0

Nancy Braches on fri 11 aug 06


When I first started potting, my instructor told me....make your handles so they feel good to you. ....heck I didn't have a clue to what she meant and I kept trying to do what I saw, do other's styles, others' opinions....and the handles were pretty but didn't "feel" right to me. So I pulled and pulled and pulled some more. I tried different techniques, changed some, did them my way and after a while, my handles were beautiful and "felt" right to me. Yes I try some funky things but when it comes to mugs...we all want that comfort that a hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa brings. I now make sure my mugs feel good when I hold them in both hands and that the handle is comfortable to hold...not too thin, not too fat...I never go over the top of the mug because I grew up learning to turn your glasses/cups upside down in the cupboard and that handle over the top of the mug just doesn't work.

Just my little opinion of what worked for me. Also look at every handle you can. I browse catalogs, online, pottery books and, of course, 500 cups book. (I found all the 500 series the cheapest on Amazon)


Nancy
Hilltop Pottery


---------------------------------
Talk is cheap. Use Yahoo! Messenger to make PC-to-Phone calls. Great rates starting at 1/min.

David Woof on sat 12 aug 06


Hi Randy, yes, good idea, get the end picture first because it is first all
about seeing. but like learning to speak a new language we must learn to
hear sounds that at first we don't apprehend or comprehend. so too with
seeing, keep that end picture as a reference and over time you will see more
there. As you pull the next "thousand" and conciously look for form and the
complimenting relationships between form in your work, others work, and in
nature you will become ever more form concious on the subconcious level,
intuitive recognitoin will develope. Things will be "right" even if they
defy or break the "rules and formulas" for the proper perfect handle. There
are some definite do nots, but the final word has not been said in this
regard. Study the relationships between the parts of the human face and
body, yours' or anyone who will oblige. There is some real advanced creative
handiwork there, as is found in all natural creation. and to those of us who
wish to ignore, deny or wish not to believe in a creator, one could say
Evolution is an inteligent creator isn't she?



David
_________________________________
_________________________________
David Woof Studio
Clarkdale, Arizona
Ph. 928-821-3747 Fax. 866-881-3461
________________________________
________________________________
peering over the edge, reverently taking an irreverent look at everything.

Patrick Cross on sun 13 aug 06


Dave...you might try getting your hands on some Osage Orange...aka Boddock
for your ribs. It's the tree that makes those incredibly messy large brainy
looking fruit which are a pale yellow green and about the size of a
softball...sometimes referred to as horse apples. it also has enormous
thorns that can easily go through tires. The wood from those trees is as
tough as nails. Recently my brother has been making kitchen utensils from
it and it really will take a good deal of abuse. Right this minute I am
just too tuckered out but I will take some photos of the utensils and send
them to you tomorrow. Now that I'm thinking about it they are basically
ribs on sticks.

Patrick Cross (cone10soda)


On 8/11/06, Dave Finkelnburg wrote:
>
> Dave Finkelnburg, making hardwood throwing
> ribs and wondering what's the best wood, whether
> treating them with tung oil would be good or
> bad...having found the right shape of rib is a great
> aid in reproducing a desired curve in a set of pots...
>
> --- Ann Brink <> wrote:
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Dave Finkelnburg"
> > > And do watch out for the handle police! They
> > are
> > > more than a filament of my imagination! :-)
> > .....filament- is that kind of like a "figment"?
> >
> > Ann Brink in Lompoc CA, spending time on
> > inconsequential things- it's late.
>
>
> __________________________________________________
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
> http://mail.yahoo.com
>
>
> ______________________________________________________________________________
> Send postings to clayart@lsv.ceramics.org
>
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from http://www.ceramics.org/clayart/
>
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at
> melpots@pclink.com.
>

Lee Love on sun 13 aug 06


Randy,

I'd recommend taking workshops with some good handle makers.
Take up collecting mugs and pitchers. Handle good ones often and,
draw them. If you take up drawing, it helps you understand that we
really don't see things as they actually are, at first glance. We
have a cliche of the object stored in our memory, and call that up
when we look at things. But when you draw them, you have to test
what you are seeing against the obejct.

The number one problem with handles is that folks tend to make
them too loopy. Way too big. If you have this difficulty,
purposely make handles that are too small.

To help keep handles from looking like they are simply plunked on,
pay attention to the form and have the handle follow the lines of the
form. Also, draw trees. pay attention to how the trunk comes out
of the ground and how the branches come off the trunk. This will
help your handles become more organic.


--

Lee in Mashiko, Japan
http://potters.blogspot.com/
"Let the beauty we love be what we do." - Rumi

Dannon Rhudy on sun 13 aug 06


Patrick said:


> Dave...you might try getting your hands on some Osage Orange...aka
Boddock......>>>>>.

Ummmmm - well, that's actually bois d/arc. But most
folks do in fact call it "bodark". That's in Texas. Here
in southern Indiana, it's mostly called hedge apple.
A fiercely strong wood, and not easy to work. But
lasts forever. More or less.

regards

Dannon Rhudy

Elizabeth Priddy on mon 14 aug 06


Improving handles 101

One way to begin to visualize good proportions is to
use two handy tools.

A flexible ruler will bend into any shape and hold it,
while it is covered by a rubber ruler, so you can make
the handle of your choice in shape and then measure
the actual length of clay you will need. Use of this
at the leather stage will let you look at the handle
on the silhouette of the pot prior to affixing it.

The other tool is more abstract. There are brass
loops in the craft section, fabric, that are used for
knitting or something that come in various sizes. If
you hold that form behind your pot and look through it
at the pot, you can "see" perfect circles as they
attach to the thrown form. Moving them toward and
away from the pot will help you work with proportion
and scale. They come in various sizes and are about
50 cents on average up to a buck fifty.

You could of course make them out of old coat hangers,
but then they would not be perfectly round and the
exercise is for nought. But then again, there are
other proportional shapes you could explore.

That tool in your jar of tools that you know not what
to do with, that looks like a loop tool for trimming,
but isn't because it is a perfectly round cirle of
sharp metal on both edges...it is a handle making
tool.
You olace it down into a block of clay, below the
midpoint of the arc of the circle, and pull it through
the clay, gradually coming up as you exit the block,
but never coming up further than the max diameter of
the circle. The resultant thing you just cut out is a
perfectly tapered, rounded edged, flat backed strap
handle, ready to get one quick swoop of your thumb and
affix to the pot, and not a wet slimy mess to work
with, either. This is how it was done in production
before extruded handles. This is how porcelain teacup
handles get their lovely taper. This is NOT a pulled
handle and should not be compared to one, as it is a
whole nuther animal. A delightful, easy to make, not
slimy animal that can be made in any diameter...

Now, getting it on without destroying its perfection
is another story about practice and time served, but
that is for another day.

That's it for today's episode of E-Design 101.

E


Elizabeth Priddy

Beaufort, NC - USA
http://www.elizabethpriddy.com

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Vince Pitelka on mon 14 aug 06


I've made so many kinds of handles over the past 35 years, and I think I
have finally learned to make good ones. Here are a few fairly opinionated
comments that might be of use when making handles:

A handle without modulation in thickness or width makes the piece look
machine made. When employed for making handles, the extruder is best used
for forming blanks that are then worked by pulling or otherwise shaping to
produce a handle that is tapered in width and thickness from top to bottom
or from both ends to the center.

Handles with a round cross section are impractical on mugs. They do not
give your hand enough of a purchase when you grab the handle, and the piece
wants to swing down sideways when you tilt it.

Some handles have pronounced sharp ridges on the outside and or the inside,
and that usually makes for a very uncomfortable handle. Sharp ridges on the
inside surface are uncomfortable against the fingers. Sharp ridges on the
outside are uncomfortable against the outer surface of the fingers or
knuckles where they rest against the handle and stabilize the mug. To avoid
such ridges, pull the handle between the base of the thumb and the base of
the first finger, down by the web of the thumb. Rotate the handle back and
forth 180 degrees with each pull. This gives a flattened oval
cross-section, comfortable both on the inside and the outside of the handle.
You might want to occasionally pull with the thumb against the handle and
your fingers against the back side, again rotating back and forth 180
degrees with each pull, but too much of that produces those undesireable
ridges. If you want slight visual ridges on the outside of the handle, lay
down the pulled handle on a smooth loose piece of plastic sheeting (it will
stick to canvas or wood, but will lift easily from the plastic), and drag
two or three fingers along the surface to apply the ridges. If they are
quite low, they will not decrease the comfort of the handle.

There should be a significant lug or thicker area where the handle is
attached to the mug or cup. This not only gives true strength, it gives the
reassuring appearance of strength. A weak connection between handle and pot
makes the whole piece look weak. Some of the nicest mugs I have seen
recently have thicker lugs both at the top and bottom of the handle.

It is okay for a handle to be very thin if it is wide enough. There are no
standards on this, but in my experience, a handle for an average-size coffee
mug might start about 1 1/4" wide at the top and taper down to as little as
3/4" wide at the bottom, and in thickness, after the attachment lug it might
taper quickly to as little as 3/16". That sounds very thin, but I have seen
so many very successful mugs with handles that thin but are wide enough.
An excessively thin handle that is too narrow makes for a very
precarious-looking mug. An excessively thick handle makes for a heavy and
awkward mug, even if the vessel is well thrown.

That little "V" formed where many handles are attached at the bottom bothers
me. It seems unresolved. It is so easy to add a small amount of clay to the
inside of that "V" to form a tight curve, a stronger attachment, and a much
more visually satisfying negative space inside the handle.

A handle with an unmodulated curve from top to bottom is awkward, because
the mug wants to swing downwards and forces you to grab the handle very
tightly. The best handles usually feature a smooth curve from the top, but
then straighten out slightly at the bottom. With the first two fingers
through the handle and the outer surface of the third finger resting against
the outside of the handle, the mug is very stable in your hand.

Thumb stops (those little nerds of clay added to the top of the handle) suck
completely unless they are COMFORTABLE under the thumb and help you in
holding the mug comfortably and securely.. Most of the thumb stops I see
are just plain awkward and uncomfortable. I have a mug by a potter whose
work I greatly admire - a fine potter, a wonderful person, and an active
member of Clayart. I don't use his mug because the thumb stop is so
uncomfortable. You know who you are.

A handle on a mug should not curve out away from the mug any more than is
necessar to keep the knuckles from touching the hot surface. If the handle
curves out further, it just moves the center of gravity away from the hand,
making it awkward to hold and use the mug. You need to have enough room
inside the handle to allow at least one or two fingers (I prefer two)
without having them touch the hot surface of the mug, but there's no reason
for more space, and it makes for an awkward handle out of balance with the
mug.

As someone else pointed out, always consider the negative space inside the
handle. That's an important part of the overall design. Proper attention
to negative space, implied space, and activated space are critical to
successful design.

Hope this stuff is helpful. I expect it might elicit a flurry of responses,
and that is a good thing.
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft, Tennessee Technological University
Smithville TN 37166, 615/597-6801 x111
vpitelka@dtccom.net, wpitelka@tntech.edu
http://iweb.tntech.edu/wpitelka/
http://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/

dwichman@frontiernet.net on tue 15 aug 06


I want to thank you for your handle thoughts. I have been trying (not
too successfully) to find a nice compromise between what I like and
what feels good for a mug handle. You succinctly gave words to issues
which should be considered when making and adding a handle. Just like
everything else in the clay world, it may look simple but there is just
soooo much to it........

Debi Wichman

Ron Roy on fri 18 aug 06


Hi Vince - well no flurries but perhaps this will help fill in the empty space.

I suspect your description of the process and all it's details are just too
complete for anyone to add to.

I will agree with everything you say - especially about the sharp ridges
that can make a handle so uncomfortable - where they came from is a mystery
to me.

I can take issue with your recommended width - I have many cups and mugs in
my collection that are no more than 5/8" wide and are some of the most
comfortable I have.

Aside from that I agree with your recommendations - a handle should fit the
hand - no matter which kind.

RR





>I've made so many kinds of handles over the past 35 years, and I think I
>have finally learned to make good ones. Here are a few fairly opinionated
>comments that might be of use when making handles:
>
>A handle without modulation in thickness or width makes the piece look
>machine made. When employed for making handles, the extruder is best used
>for forming blanks that are then worked by pulling or otherwise shaping to
>produce a handle that is tapered in width and thickness from top to bottom
>or from both ends to the center.
>
>Handles with a round cross section are impractical on mugs. They do not
>give your hand enough of a purchase when you grab the handle, and the piece
>wants to swing down sideways when you tilt it.
>
>Some handles have pronounced sharp ridges on the outside and or the inside,
>and that usually makes for a very uncomfortable handle. Sharp ridges on the
>inside surface are uncomfortable against the fingers. Sharp ridges on the
>outside are uncomfortable against the outer surface of the fingers or
>knuckles where they rest against the handle and stabilize the mug. To avoid
>such ridges, pull the handle between the base of the thumb and the base of
>the first finger, down by the web of the thumb. Rotate the handle back and
>forth 180 degrees with each pull. This gives a flattened oval
>cross-section, comfortable both on the inside and the outside of the handle.
>You might want to occasionally pull with the thumb against the handle and
>your fingers against the back side, again rotating back and forth 180
>degrees with each pull, but too much of that produces those undesireable
>ridges. If you want slight visual ridges on the outside of the handle, lay
>down the pulled handle on a smooth loose piece of plastic sheeting (it will
>stick to canvas or wood, but will lift easily from the plastic), and drag
>two or three fingers along the surface to apply the ridges. If they are
>quite low, they will not decrease the comfort of the handle.
>
>There should be a significant lug or thicker area where the handle is
>attached to the mug or cup. This not only gives true strength, it gives the
>reassuring appearance of strength. A weak connection between handle and pot
>makes the whole piece look weak. Some of the nicest mugs I have seen
>recently have thicker lugs both at the top and bottom of the handle.
>
>It is okay for a handle to be very thin if it is wide enough. There are no
>standards on this, but in my experience, a handle for an average-size coffee
>mug might start about 1 1/4" wide at the top and taper down to as little as
>3/4" wide at the bottom, and in thickness, after the attachment lug it might
>taper quickly to as little as 3/16". That sounds very thin, but I have seen
>so many very successful mugs with handles that thin but are wide enough.
>An excessively thin handle that is too narrow makes for a very
>precarious-looking mug. An excessively thick handle makes for a heavy and
>awkward mug, even if the vessel is well thrown.
>
>That little "V" formed where many handles are attached at the bottom bothers
>me. It seems unresolved. It is so easy to add a small amount of clay to the
>inside of that "V" to form a tight curve, a stronger attachment, and a much
>more visually satisfying negative space inside the handle.
>
>A handle with an unmodulated curve from top to bottom is awkward, because
>the mug wants to swing downwards and forces you to grab the handle very
>tightly. The best handles usually feature a smooth curve from the top, but
>then straighten out slightly at the bottom. With the first two fingers
>through the handle and the outer surface of the third finger resting against
>the outside of the handle, the mug is very stable in your hand.
>
>Thumb stops (those little nerds of clay added to the top of the handle) suck
>completely unless they are COMFORTABLE under the thumb and help you in
>holding the mug comfortably and securely.. Most of the thumb stops I see
>are just plain awkward and uncomfortable. I have a mug by a potter whose
>work I greatly admire - a fine potter, a wonderful person, and an active
>member of Clayart. I don't use his mug because the thumb stop is so
>uncomfortable. You know who you are.
>
>A handle on a mug should not curve out away from the mug any more than is
>necessar to keep the knuckles from touching the hot surface. If the handle
>curves out further, it just moves the center of gravity away from the hand,
>making it awkward to hold and use the mug. You need to have enough room
>inside the handle to allow at least one or two fingers (I prefer two)
>without having them touch the hot surface of the mug, but there's no reason
>for more space, and it makes for an awkward handle out of balance with the
>mug.
>
>As someone else pointed out, always consider the negative space inside the
>handle. That's an important part of the overall design. Proper attention
>to negative space, implied space, and activated space are critical to
>successful design.
>
>Hope this stuff is helpful. I expect it might elicit a flurry of responses,
>and that is a good thing.
>- Vince
>
>Vince Pitelka

Ron Roy
RR#4
15084 Little Lake Road
Brighton, Ontario
Canada
K0K 1H0