Two Super Creative Mug Handle Ideas

Mike Cinelli and Ashley Kim share their handle ideas!

mug handle ideas

Looking for some new mug handle ideas? Getting bored with the status quo? Today’s post is just what you need! In today’s post, a couple of excerpts from the latest issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Mike Cinelli and Ashley Kim share their unconventional and creative handle techniques. Mike’s unique mug handle idea was inspired by science fiction and Ashley’s idea came from her Korean heritage. Where will your next great mug handle ideas come from? – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


Mike Cinelli’s Science Fiction Handle

My mug handle is constructed of multiple thrown and extruded parts. The struts that project off the mug and connect to the handle are thrown off the hump and ribbed to created the texture (1). They are dried by using a torch briefly to allow handling and then cut off and set aside. I’ll usually throw a group of 12–18 mugs, and once the surfacing is done, I’ll throw a corresponding number of these struts. They are cut in half, slipped and scored, then attached to the mugs. I typically let these sit overnight to allow proper adhesion.

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1 Throw, then texture strut-like forms using a serrated rib.

2 Form extruded strap handles that are curved into loops with the ends joined.

3 Attach struts to the mug, attach the handle to the struts, and add a coil to the joint.

Clay straps are extruded and cut down, slipped, scored, and folded over to become the handle (2). The resulting loop is then slipped, scored, and attached to the mug. The interior seam receives a small coil (3), helping strengthen the joint while also adding a visual detail. After the handle is appropriately placed, outer details are attached to the handle.

Ashley Kim’s Korean Thimble Handle

My thimble handle is inspired by traditional Korean thimbles that are often a flat oval shape made of either layered fiber or leather. Cut out tombstone shapes in clay, then curve one using the pad of your middle finger (4) before attaching two together to form a hollow thimble handle (5). When the handle reaches leather hard, cut the open end to match the curve of the cup body (6), then attach it to the cup along the seam where the pinched area joins the textured bottom. I find this placement sensible and functional.

4 To make the thimble handle, cut out and curve dome shapes over your finger.

5 Take two of the domes, score the edges, apply slip, then attach them together.

6 Cut the thimble’s open end to match the cup’s curve, then attach.

There is a continuous visual line wrapping around the form, which includes the thimble’s seam, while at the same time, the thimble shape serves as a place for holding the cup. On another level, I enjoy how the thimble handle changes the personality of the cup, which would otherwise be generic, while the reference to a traditional Korean thimble relates to my background.

Do you have any creative mug handle ideas? Share them in the comments below!
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