Handel and Handles – can you handle the variations?


The club cant even Handel me right now
Acknowledging memebase

Coming across this image a few weeks ago, I knew I had to save it for when my mugs popped out of the kiln…

… and I’m sooo excited to share my new mugs styles with you!!!

When I was testing mug handles, opinion was pretty much divided between two (out of four) different shapes so I decided to offer both with my altered mug – so we have a traditional curve as well as a lower, compact loop which easily fits two fingers with your thump resting comfortably on top.

I have also made a rounded, bowl like mug to complement the taller and you could say, more traditional altered mug shape. The current working title is scooped mug but I’m happy to take suggestions on what to call it.

I’ll be debuting them at Handmade Redcliffe’s Celebrating Mum market this Saturday.

Handmade Redcliffe promises: Flower arranging workshops and photography sessions. Spoil & surprise Mum by taking her to our Mother’s Day pop up sweets cafe ~ decadent & pretty it will be! A market showcasing makers of homewares, herbal cosmetics, clothing & unique handmade finds just for women.

If I have some left, I’ll be posting them up into the online store quick smart as they’d make great Mothers’ Day gifts!

It was my goal to get these out before Mothers’ Day – I’d had quite a few people tell me that they love my work, especially the altered heart beakers but didn’t feel like they would actually use them for beverages as they didn’t have handles. I played around for a while, trying to get handles working on those lovely curved forms but I wasn’t happy with the outcomes. In the end, I decided to make new, different forms to add to the range with handles so I hope you like these offerings! Please let me know what you think!

In terms of making, handles are well… you could say, well, they are handles (potters pause and share the ‘handle look’). You kinda just have to make them to get it. Let me try and explain:

Step one: Throw and turn vessel shape.

Step two: Make handle. Now this can be done in so many ways – cut strips of clay, roll out a sausage of clay in a cylinder or more pyramid-like shape, ‘pulling’ a handle, slip cast the handle  – these are just a few methods. Once you have decided  on how to make the handle, attaching it offers even more options!

As for me, I was taught the traditional, pulling method of making and attaching handles. Somedays, when I’m in the zone, I find pulling the clay relaxing and oh so simple. Other days, it’s the worst. I’d rather be cleaning the shower. Or the oven.

I got Andrew to take a few photos of me in action the other night – some of the photos are blurry as my hand was moving down the clay but hopefully it will give you an idea of the process.

Andrew was at work when I was attaching the handles so I didn’t get a chance to get any photos of that but hopefully I’ll be making more soon (hint hint… buy buy) so we’ll be able to add to the photo gallery then.

I will say that after you have made the vessel and made the handle, you are beyond keen to get it attached and attached well. Handles are notorious for cracking. Attaching the clay at a good temperature – not too soft, not too firm – and making sure you provide good scoring (when you scratch up the clay so that it is ‘open’ to a new surface/addition) and lots of slip (think of slip as glue – it’s usually liquid clay and helps to fill in between the scratches and the joining pieces) will help to minimize cracking. Slow drying time is also an important factor.

 Oh, something a little fun …and maybe a touch superstitious… I always dry my cups upside down. In my head, I feel that it helps the handle to shape well. Gravity and all that in action. Ha! It helps me sleep. Don’t judge a potter until you’ve made a mug ok! I also tend to use vinegar instead of water when making my slip. Someone at TAFE suggested it as it doesn’t evaporate in the same way as water. Plus, it fills my studio with memories of beach trips in the summer, scarfing down fresh, hot chips with salt and vinegar. Win Win!

I hope this has helped you understand just one way handles are made. I find that pulled handles are always unique. Each can feel slightly different in your hand as …well… they are innately individual.

I know I’ve said this before but I truly love seeing people pick up my work, sneaking their fingers around it and weighing it up in their hand. Especially with a pondering look on their face – it makes me think they really care about how the vessel feels in their hand and in their heart. And the corny moment is over haha. Oh but before we move on completely, the other week at the BrisStyle Twilight market, my heart totally jumped when one customer was like – “Yes, this is the mug. This handle is perfect. I must have it.” That was one of the night’s highlights!

So yes. I now offer handles and mugs and there will be a few more new releases in the lead up to Mothers’ day.
I’d love to be a part of making the day special for your mum or mum-like figure.

With a big smile for you, Rachel.

4 thoughts on “Handel and Handles – can you handle the variations?

  1. Love the altered mugs! What a lovely follow on from the altered heart beaker. The colour range is beautiful and would look great as a set. Are they coloured on the inside? They look clear glazed on the inside. If so, how do you manage to colour the outside so well without the glaze ending up inside the mug?

    1. Thanks Caroline! I did try adding handles to the heart beakers but they didn’t look right so I’m stoked with how the altered mugs have turned out. You were on the money – it’s my clear glaze inside the mugs. I pour the clear glaze in the interior first and then I dip the mugs into the coloured glaze (using two fingers on the interior wall to dip in and pull out… does that make sense?), angling the edges so that the colour doesn’t run down/into the altered seam. It has taken a practice to get the dip and edge rotation right but I don’t have many issues now. What a great question!!!!

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