Published Feb 14, 2022
Texture in clay can be addictive. Who doesn't love pressing objects into a piece of soft clay? And why stop at the handles?
As Annie Chrietzberg demonstrates in today's post, textured slab handles are a great way to carry texture throughout a piece—plus they are less messy than pulled handles and can provide instant gratification. Have a look! - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor
There’s a viable alternative to the drudgery and messiness of pulling handles—making them from slabs. I think slab handles are especially pleasing when impressed with a texture because it adds an extra visual—as well as tactile—zing. Furthermore, there’s no waiting for slab handles to set up since they can be made and attached right after a cup is trimmed. I slip, score, then slip, and score through the slip again, to create an interface where the handle joins the cup. Then I set the finished cup in a plastic box overnight.
I make cups in “litters” of a dozen or so. When I change the form of a cup, I’ll change the shape of the handle, and also the texture. Every texture bends a different way. Just roll out a slab, then cut it into even strips, impress with different textures, and you’ll see what I mean.
Start with a small piece of clay and make a thin, strong slab (I use a Chinese clay mallet to pound out the slab). Create a template that works with the texture you’re going to use as well as the size of the cups you’ve thrown. Align the template to the pattern in the texture and cut the sides with the tip of the knife pointing it in to reduce the amount of clay where it overlaps once you roll in the sides of the handle. Make sure you keep both the area you’re working on and your hands free of “crumbs,” otherwise they’ll embed themselves in, and disrupt your texture. Crumbs tend to become even more visible when you start to shape your handle.
**First published in 2015.