Handbuilding Video: A Surefire Way to Build Strong Handbuilt Sculptures

If you’ve ever had problems with appendages cracking off of handbuilt sculptures, today’s video might just help you solve that problem. In it, Patz Fowle explains the process she developed to avoid these unfortunate occurrences. Patz has been using this process to make her whimsical, anthropomorphic, clay animal sculptures for years. Since it is back to school time, I thought it was a great time to share this project for all the teachers (and students) out there. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



To learn more about Patz Fowle and see images of her work, visit www.patzfowle.com.

  • ibrahim z.

    انت فعلا فنانه …………شكرا لكي

  • Patz Fowle is great. Her students must love her! I’d love to take her class.

  • Kathleen R.

    Very well done video. You are a great teacher!

  • Merrilyn M.

    Wow!!! My friend next door and I spent all afternoon watching and making your elephant, we had a ball lot’s of laughs, as we have only just started pottery we really appreciate all the video’s etc. from the Aussie girls thanks

  • Angela M.

    I ordered your chicken dvd – can’t wait to watch – I have admired your work for a long time.


  • Patz F.

    Thanks for all the encouragement Sharon! I have 2 different instructional Patz Process DVDs. You can find them on my website and they are both informative and fun! I just think if you can’t enjoy yourself while being creative you’re just-working.

    Shelly, some of my favorite people are art teachers! I meet a lot of them when I am teaching at professional development workshops and as an artist-in-residence in schools. I do make my smallish animals solid however; I always keep in mind a one inch rule for clay. If the ball of clay is solid and thicker than one inch- I create a hole for proper release of gas and or air and to prevent the sculpture from cracking or blowing up during firing.

    In case anyone is wondering, when I create my larger pieces they still start out solid and then I hollow them out.

    Patz Fowle

  • Enjoyed watching your video. I almost always use magic water for joining my pieces. I will certainly try the slip technique and also introduce it to my students.

  • Sharon C.

    Thanks, I completely enjoyed your teaching technique and mostly your personality that came through. You come across very well and make the learning loads of fun. I am anxious to try a cute animal now. I make thrown piggy banks and other animal banks, now I’ll have to try an elephant bank by hollowing it out more and try it with hand building. Do you have other instructional videos? If not, you should!

  • Shelley M.

    I’ve been using and teaching this attachment technique all along. I learned it from my teacher, so it’s nothing new. I was, however, surprised that she made the animal solid and not hollow. I’m definitely going to try making one solid, as she does in this video and see how it goes.

  • Lynne N.

    I do a lot of handbuilding. I appreciate so many things about your vid – the nifty tool, the slip trick, learning I don’t always have to start with a hollow ball, your clay technique, and your teaching technique! Thanks muchly. Lynne

  • Jeffrey D.

    too bad i can’t watch it c.a.d. still using flash
    media, excluding millions of iphones & ipads. I rarely check in with my Mac, so I’m once again making a request for iphone compatibility with your media. ~thx

  • Teresa F.

    Thanks for the helpful video. I’ve been wanting to make a hippo and now I have a better idea of how to approach it and avoid an explosion.

  • Subscriber T.

    I like the idea of making slip from the piece itself – rather than bringing extra slip to the project… much cleaner! Thanks

  • Michela P.

    are you sure that there are not bubbles?

  • Shirey L.

    g’day Patz,From Australia,
    we must be from the same planet as i have been using the same technique for years! 🙂 as to the hole in the middle of the body I also use a long pin tool and make small holes right up throught the legs into the body, this also prevents blow up problems.
    Cheers from Oz,

  • Grit S.

    That is a very helpful ! Merci à vous

  • Resa W.

    I love this technique! I often worry that small appendages will fall or break off, but with this thoughtful deep anchoring method I wouldn’t have to worry at all. I can’t wait to try it. Very helpful video. Adorable critters. Thanks!

  • Subscriber T.

    Hummmmm, I might try this with fingers on my human sculptures. Thankx for doing a video on sculpting, never enough of that kind of instruction.

  • Patz F.

    Hi everyone thanks for the positive comments! I have been using this technique to make small quirky animal sculptures since 1970 and I really have a lot of fun with it. To answer your question yes, my husband and I make the Patz Process tools.

    Patz Fowle

    PS: It was a blast working with everyone at the Potters Council Handbuilding Conference in Atlanta!!

  • Merrill K.

    Great appendage technique! Thank you.
    I will share with my students and others.
    Did you make your own tools?

  • I generally make legs on critters by starting with a bigger ball of clay and cutting an “X” across the bottom. The four parts created become four legs when you begin to pinch them out. Very little chance of an appendage breaking off when it begins as a part of the whole and not as an addition. However, there is always room for new techniques, and this is a very useful demo for creating critters with children. A much greater chance of them keeping all their arms and legs (the critters, not the kids ;-> ) than by adding flat surface to flat surface. Thanks!

  • Maria S.

    Very valuable K.I.S.S video..(Keep It Simple Sweetie) ..and it makes it very achivable for me. Maria..The Cotton pickin’ Potter in the South

  • Gisele G.

    je vous signiale que je ne suis pas orthophoniste mais une mamy a la retraite

  • Gisele G.

    bravo je ne comprends pas votre langue mais la video est parlante et m aidera beaucoup dans mes prochains ouvrages car je fait de la poterie depuis 3ans avec le club de mon village les videos des tournages surtour m aident aussi je vous remercie car j aprecie votre merveilleux travail
    slts gisele

  • i love the presentation , the techniques and… the delicate humor… thank you, Patz.

  • Sushila V.

    fantastic ! Iam going to give it a tryand hope it is as easy as it looks! thank you

  • Sealja P.

    That is a very helpful video! Thank you so much 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this! I’ve been frustrating myself trying to cut things in half and hollow them, and reassemble. To know that I only had to made the hole is invaluable! I’m off to try it 🙂

  • Kelly M.

    I don’t handbuild very often, but just loved that and would love to see more handbuilt animals, thanks!

  • Grayson S.

    Im going to give it a try. Thank you. So Helpful 🙂

  • Sara T.

    Fantastic video. Loved your technique; very helpful!! Thanks!

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image

Send this to a friend