Handbuilding Video: Making a Tidy Slab-Built Tumbler with Slip Decoration

Charan Sachar applies slip decoration to his handbuilt tumbler.

Charan Sachar applies slip decoration to his handbuilt tumbler.

Today’s video comes to us from Ceramic Arts Daily reader Charan Sachar. I admire Charan’s ability to make handbuilt forms that are neat and tight. Not that handbuilt forms have to be neat and tight – loose handbuilt forms are great too – but I definitely struggle with making my handbuilt forms appear well crafted and not sloppy (in my eyes). At any rate, this is an enjoyable video, and I definitely picked up a few tips to help improve my handbuilt pots. Hope you will too! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Comments
  • really great to watch. thanks for giving us the entire process
    viva

  • It would have been nice to know exactly what tools he was using, and to what purpose. Impressive none the less.

  • Enjoyed it, but the low quality of the video made it very difficult to see the first part when he was making the marks.

  • It is a joy to watch you work–a master of the craft and an artist all in one! I appreciate your generosity. I always think, “I can do that.” after watching your demos–but I can’t!

  • Here are the steps for the process.
    Cut template for your tumbler or cylinder from a thin slab (1/8 inch) of compressed clay. The clay needs to be a little stiffer than fresh out of the bag.
    Roll the top rim with a brayer to round it making it comfortable for drinking. Roll the side of the slab to bevel it later for joining. The brayer can be purchased at a clay supply store.
    Roll patterns or use stamps to decorate. This is where you can let your creativity show through. I make some stamps and some I purchase at thrift stores.
    Apply slip to the sides and roll over a rolling pin to form your tumbler. To true up the roundness, use a round object like a Styrofoam ball which won’t stick to the clay.
    Score and slip to add the bottom. The bottom is finished by running a profile tool (made from a popsicle stick) along the edge.
    My tumblers are embellished with buttons to capture the look of embroidered fabric wrapped around and held together with buttons.
    These tumblers are further decorated with slip to give more texture.

    Hope this helps. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at creativewithclay@yahoo.com
    Thanks
    Charan
    PS: I don’t like the sound of my voice and hence avoid talking in my videos. 🙂

  • Charon,

    Great video; thanks! I love the tumbler. What a lot of detail you put into it, yet it retains the charm of a handbuilt piece. Is there a secret to painting on the black slip so evenly, or do you just have a steady hand?

    Cindy

  • Since I got a few emails regarding this, the surface I am laying my slab on is Tar paper I got from a construction site. You can use newspaper too, but after 2-3 slabs the newspaper tends to wrinkle.
    Charan

  • Hi Cindy, It is practice and good banding wheel (Shimpo). And a steady hand helps too. 🙂

  • Another killer video by an amazing potter. No narrative was necessary, although,you have a delightful voice.:)
    Dianne
    Steilacoom, WA

  • What a great video. Thanks for making it. I love the tumbler.

  • Thank you for the video. I picked up some great tricks with the Egg and styrofoam ideas. I am still unsure about the bottom tooling you did before you placed the “cup’ on top of it. What was that,please?

    Pam in Georgia

  • Great video & beautiful work. Thanks for adding the explanations about tools, etc. As I was watching, I was wondering–now what is that he’s using? Thanks for sharing.
    I just made my first slab built cups–not as neat as yourS!
    Christine

  • @Pam That tool is just a notch I put at the end of a popciple stick and used as a profiler to round the bottom edge and gice it a finished look.

  • Nice to see all those tools in action, very creative process.
    What is used to apply the color slip (is there like a paper bag with some tip at the end?)
    I am sure your voice must be nice. The instructions are important!!!

    Irma

    Chicago

  • Nice to see all those tools in action, very creative process.
    What is used to apply the color slip (is there like a paper bag with some tip at the end?)
    I am sure your voice must be nice. The instructions are important!!!

    Irma

    Chicago

  • @Irma That is a slip decorating tool I make myself out of mylar paper.
    It was featured on Ceramic Arts Daily a while back. Here is the link to that video on how I make it.
    /clay-tools/decorating-tools/video-of-the-week-slip-cones-easy-to-make-pottery-tools-for-precise-slip-trailing/

  • I want to mention that my handbuilding skills greatly improved after attending a workshop from Oregon potter, Ginger Steele (http://www.insomniapottery.com). Do check out her amazing work too and take a workshop whenever you get a chance.

  • This was a great little instructional video. Thank you for sharing it.

  • appart of the ceramics, I love the music… could you give us the title?

  • I loved the use of the tools for rolling and smoothing the clay, as well as the repetive, not just once or twice. That’s part of making it tight and pro looking. My congrats! Audrey Emley

  • The music is a compilation of Zakir Hussain’s tabla. You can google to find his music.

  • Charan,

    Your gift to all of us is wonderful – thank you.

    Especially, when you gave us the right to use some intellect and freedom to observe and learn instead of adding a voice-over commentary.

    There is nothing complicated in your video – I only wish I could play the Sitar that good also.

    Cyrus

  • What is the tool you use for applying slip? Looks like a cake deorating tool?

    Thanks! That was very ….enjoyable and edifiying.

  • A very impressive video. Thank you for your generosity of spirit. Blair

  • I found your video inspiring. Creativity is not only originality but modification of what already has been produced. You have given me several new ideas and your responses to these comments have already answered many of my questions. Thank you!! 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this inspiring video and the generous detailed information. You certainly have found your potter’s voice, which is the main one in my opinion! God bless you for sharing.

  • Charan, I loved the video but would like to know what kind of slip trailer you are using. I have not had much success with the bulbous one I have. Thanks.

  • That is a slip decorating tool I make myself out of mylar paper.
    It was featured on Ceramic Arts Daily a while back. Here is the link to that video on how I make it.
    /clay-tools/decorating-tools/video-of-the-week-slip-cones-easy-to-make-pottery-tools-for-precise-slip-trailing/

  • Thanks for this vid, Charan and Jennifer. It covers both the basics and a lot of nice attention to detail.

  • Loved the video and your decorations! Since the sound on my computer is bad, I appreciated that it wasn’t needed. I went to your site and was so excited to see how to make the slip trailing tool then came back here and found out what the material was! All my questions answered…until I actually try it. Then, no doubt, many will surface. Thank you so much for being so generous about sharing your techniques!

  • Beautiful video,I’m rushing out for mylar tomorrow.What is it that you stuck in the end of the slip trailer after you filled it? Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Fantastic as usual…. and as usual I would love to see the final product. What directions he goes with in regards to glaze… or is he keeps it simple to emphasize the details and slip work. etc. Thanks

  • Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try this – very inspirational video! Where can I find this fabulous music? Music is always a big part of my creative process and imho you picked the PERFECT piece to go with the demo. Excellent! Would love to find the cd. Thank you!

  • This was great, thank you. I just made a couple to try out the technique. I “winged it” on the cup pattern but ended up with a cup that has one side slightly taller then the other. Can you give me any guidance on making my pattern? Thanks again.

  • Hi Antoinette,
    Glad to hear you could follow the steps and make some pieces.
    I use a lot of crazy Math to figure out the templates for the final piece I need. Here is a blog entry I had done for making some handbuilt jars. It is the engineer in me that tends to work like this. 🙂
    http://creativewithclay.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-do-i-need-to-learn-math.html
    The easiest thing to do is to find a paper cup that you like, cut out the bottom and make a cut along the length and lay it flat. Increase this by the shrinkage of your clay (You can take a photocopy with magnification) and you have a template.

  • LOVED the video and would love to try this! However, it sure would help tremendously if there was dialogue along with the video explaining the steps and the tools he used. Those of us(like me) who are relatively new to pottery do not fully understand what is going on during the process, what he is doing, and why! Is it possible for me to get detailed information that I can print out that explains things more…sure would appreciate it?! HELP!! 🙂
    Thanks,
    Ann from South Carolina

  • Hi Ann,
    Do read through the comments. In one of the comments I have listed all the step by step instructions. And there are also other helpful links and information too.
    Charan

  • More of a question than a comment. Where or how can I find templates for handbuilt items, such as the featured tumbler? Have tried to make my own but they never seem to be correct in measurement when actually put together. Thanks

  • Terrific video. Incredible craftsmanship and artistry. The slip application fascinated me with your deftness.

    Also really loved the music. Could you tell me where I can get a copy of it or the CD ? Thanks, John Burkholder

  • The music is a compilation of Zakir Hussain’s tabla. You can google to find his music

  • Wonderful video and very informational. Lots of good tips….. like using the top and bottom of the template to mark design features on the tumbler. Thanks for sharing your techniques!

  • Thanks for your demo, it’s always very interesting seeing people work who are very skilled at what they do. One question..it was a little hard to tell from the picture quality, but did you dust the surface with a powder – presume to avoid sticking? Thanks again.

  • Hi Jo,
    Sometimes if my stamps stick to the clay, I do dust the surface of clay with corn starch. I prefer not to as it can cause problems with the slip and underglaze. The clay should be a soft leatherhard stage such that the stamps do not stick.
    Charan

  • Nice Video, just wonder how you come up with the pattern for the tumbler?

  • Hi Susan,
    I use a lot of crazy Math to figure out the templates for the final piece I need. Here is a blog entry I had done for making some handbuilt jars. It is the engineer in me that tends to work like this. 🙂
    http://creativewithclay.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-do-i-need-to-learn-math.html
    The easiest thing to do is to find a paper cup that you like, cut out the bottom and make a cut along the length and lay it flat. Increase this by the shrinkage of your clay (You can take a photocopy with magnification) and you have a template.

  • What did you use for the black strip. Is that colored slip. How did you make it. Love the video

  • j ai trouvé la video tres belle pour les commentaire pour moi de toute façon je ne comprends pas votre langage donc la video mes suffit par contre les texte qui a suivi me convient car je fait la traduction automatique je suis toujours emerveillee pas toutes vos fabrications et j apprends beaucoup avec vos videos mais malheureusement a 71 ans je n ai pas les moyen de vous commander quoi que ce soit veuillez m en excuser de profiter les videos gratuites
    que je trensmets a mes amies de la poterie dont je fait partie

    merci encore salutations et j espere en recevoir beaucoup, d autres
    gisele

  • Hi Charan,

    Thanks you so much for sharing. Your pottery reflecting the Indian art of Henna and block print is absolutely amazing. What clay do you use cone 10 or 6 and do you color your own slips.

    Thanks, Neha

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