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Published Mar 21, 2022

handle pulling technique

Over the past couple of years, I have been on an ongoing quest to make the perfect handles for my pottery. I have tried a million different techniques, and I am getting closer, but I am still not completely satisfied with my handles.

But, onward and upward (hopefully) I will go, and today’s video provides some more inspiration. In this clip from Intermediate Wheel Throwing, Jen Allen shares a super fun technique for adding a little more interest and detail to a pulled handle. Enjoy! - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor


This clip was excerpted from Intermediate Wheel Throwing, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop!

To learn more about Jennifer Allen or to see more images of her work, please visit

Plus, Learn The Ergonomics Of Handles

by Robin Hopper

The Ergonomics Of Handles

Functional pottery is made for people to use and many potters feel that the pot isn’t complete until it’s physically used for its job. If it is to do its job totally, it should be efficient, easy to use, comfortable in the hands, and give pleasure to the user at the same time. One should consider how it’s to be used and what parts of the human anatomy will be in contact with it for optimum satisfaction. Judging by a large volume of pottery that one finds in the marketplace, a great number of potters and pottery manufacturers seldom consider the anatomy of the user when making their wares.

The human hand and head are the parts of the body that generally come in contact with utilitarian pottery, and testing how our bodies interact with these objects to find what may or may not be comfortable in use is very important. Just how does a cup or mug rim feel between the lips? How does a handle feel? How many fingers fit comfortably between the handle and the body of the object? How many fingers are needed to comfortably lift the object without any undue strain? Would the handle be better if it were curved in another way? 

Finding the Center of Gravity 

The Ergonomics Of Handles

Often handles are placed on pouring vessels in such a way that energy needed to use the object is two or three times what is necessary, and therefore puts excessive strain on the user’s wrist. The center of gravity of a pouring vessel can easily be found by making a thin cardboard profile cutout of the vessel complete with handle, draw a vertical line from the center of the base to the center of the top. Then take the cardboard form in your hand and tilt it so that there is a vertical line from the bottom left part of the base, through to the center top part of the handle. Draw this line. Where the two lines cross (point A) is the center of gravity and also the point of balance. The further the handle is from the center of gravity, the more awkward the object is to pour from. Conversely, the closer the handle can be to the center of gravity, the easier it will be to use.

For maximum efficiency in use, the placement of handle and spout are subject to the following simple law: Find the center of gravity, then draw a line from the center of the handle through the center of gravity to the extremity of the pot. The spout should be at right angles to this line for efficient leverage and, therefore, easy action.

Points to Consider

  1. Are the top rims and the edges of the handles sharp to the touch for either lips or fingers?
  2. Is the curvature at the top of a drinking vessel suitable for drinking from? Does it curve in or out, or is it straight up?
  3. Is the shape of the object suitable to be held or drunk from?
  4. Does the handle have sufficient room for fingers to comfortably fit?
  5. Does the handle fit the hand, or do the fingers have to conform to the handle?
  6. Is it balanced?
  7. Does the shape of the pot need handles to fulfill its intended use?
  8. Does the sound or texture of the surface aggravate the user?
  9. Does the object as designed get too hot to hold?
  10. Could it work better and be more comfortable to use than it is?

Excerpted form Functional Pottery: Form and Aesthetic in Pots of Purpose by Robin Hopper, and available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop.

**First published in 2015.