The Puffy Handle – a Great Alternative to a Pulled Handle

Add volume to your forms with a puffy handle!


Pulled handles are lovely, but they are not the only option for creating great handles on your pottery. With a little imagination and skill, you can make successful handles in a multitude of ways. 

Our good friend Sandi Pierantozzi, who is not lacking in the imagination or the skills department, returns today with a great idea for an alternative to the pulled handle. In this clip, an excerpt from her video, What if? Explorations with Texture and Soft Slabs (which is ON SALE this weekend for 30% off list price!), Sandi shares the technique for making her “puffy” handles. Enjoy! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Five Great Handbuilding Techniques and Tools

Pick up variations on classic handbuilding techniques when you download this freebieFive Great Handbuilding Techniques and Tools.

This clip was excerpted from What if? Explorations with Texture and Soft Slabs, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop.

Never stop asking “what if?”
Take your work in new directions with Sandi’s 3-hour DVD
What If? Explorations with Texture and Soft Slabs.

Learn more about it here!

A Handle Should Be No Longer/Larger Than It Needs To Be

A good side handle on a cup, mug, pitcher, or teapot should not stick out from the form any further than it has to in order to fit one, two, three, or four fingers (your choice) without your knuckles touching the surface of the vessel. Or to put it in more practical terms, a side handle should never move the hand further from the center of gravity than is necessary.

Attaching Handles to Forms

Rather than attaching handles to forms when they are really wet, some artists allow the handle to set up so its moisture content is equivalent to the cup it’s being attached to. Finish the piece by scoring and slipping the areas of attachment on both the handle and the cup and join the two. Cleans up any visible slip or excess clay from the scoring, being careful not to overwork the handle or the area of attachment.

To see learn more about Sandi Pierrantozi and see more images of her work, check out her website

**First published in 2012.
  • Katie A.

    Another newbie question… I thought you had to have a hole that glaze wouldn’t fill in when doing a hollow shape… IE on the final fire, otherwise kaboom?????

  • Powen L.

    Hi Eric Earnshaw, corn starch can prevent clay from sticking on non-porous surface.

  • Hi,I heard Sandi mention corn starch what is this used for in pottery making. Excuse my ignorance but I’m quite new to pottery…Eric

  • Allison M.

    Great video! I think she may have forgotten to mention that you should poke a tiny hole with a needle tool somewhere to allow the steam to escape while it’s drying. My experience has been that glazed over tiny holes do not crack but I have had hollowed out sprews start to crack off a surface in the bisque if I forget to poke a hole. So I would just to be on the safe side poke a tiny hole.

  • Alek S.

    sorry it should read not the air. do people still think you wedge clay to remove air, so the piece will not blow up during firing?

  • Janet W.

    I often do rolled hollow rims on my thrown pots. I’ve found that a tiny hole made with a needle tool in an unobtrusive place is enough to vent hollow forms during bisque firing. I have to be sure to push all the way into the center of the void, however. After the piece is bisqued, I glaze over the hole. (It’s not necessary to vent during glaze-firing, as the moisture has already been fired out of the clay during the bisque process.)

  • Laura B.

    Awesome apron! Liked the handle, too. It is my meager understanding that air is not a problem in pottery – moisture is the cause of pots sometimes exploding in the kiln. At least that is what I was told.

  • Maria C.

    Disappointing no sound.. and was expecting something more exciting and poss to what forms she applied handle.

  • Jackie W.

    That’s exactly what my question was. How do you let the air escape from the handle? If you make holes won’t it be difficult to keep the inside clean? Is there a way to do it that someone could explain? Thanks in advance!
    Sandi your handles are beautiful!
    Jackie Wendenburg

  • Linda B.

    Novices may wish to know that they should somehow allow the air to escape a hollow form like this.

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