Handle Making Video: Mixing Media – An Introduction to Making Cane Handles for Functional Pottery

In today’s video, Sheila Clennell demonstrates this simple decorative “top knot” handle, a nice embellishment for a lidded form.

Adding binding cane and reed handles to pottery is a great way to spice things up if you’re getting bored with your usual pulled or handbuilt clay handles. In today’s pottery video, Sheila Clennell gives us a primer on working with cane and reed and demonstrates how to make a simple decorative embellishment out of cane on the handle on a lidded form. It is a great introductory project to try if you are new to working with this material. In addition to the video, below I have included an explanation of how you can add color to your cane handles through a simple dyeing process. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

To add color to your cane or reed handles, a variety of dyes can be used including commercial basket making dyes (as shown in photo), fabric dyes, and even natural materials like walnut shells, onion skins, marigolds and tea. Basket making and fabric dyes can easily be found at craft stores.

To dye your cane and reed, soak until the desired color is reached then rinse until water runs clear. The dyed cane and reed can be hung to dry, but will need to be soaked again overnight before use.

Note that the binding cane does not absorb the dye on the shiny side. The reed, however, takes the dye completely.

The teapot at the left has a dyed cane and reed handle.

**First published in 2009.


  • Susana A.

    What a concise, clear and fun presentation. Thanks, Susana Arias

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