Friday, August 8

On mug handles

I wanted to talk a little about my handles today. Before I get on to the design aspect, as you can see below I have a problem. As I said in an earlier post I would like the option to dip some pots into a white slip. I had concerns I would have issues with pots with attatchments and I was correct. I have absolutely nothing to offer as to how to prevent this from happening. Obviously there is a way around this, otherwise people could not be dipping pots into slips, engobes, and raw glazing. So I need to figure this out. I am going to try and raw glaze one coffee mug to see what happens. I have already glazed the inside of that mug, but now I know I cannot glaze the outside until I have learned a thing or two. If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Below is a detail of a handle. I like the way the handles look in the sense that visually I find them appealing in a surface kind of way. However . . .

The first things about all of these handles I think, is that they don't do anything to enhance the form. They serve the purpose of picking up a hot drink so you don't burn yourself. I can't say that satisfies me. I don't want them to just serve a purpose, I want them to contribute to the form in an aesthetic way-who doesn't. I think right off the bat I know one thing I need to learn to do. Something I have resisted with every fiber of my being for a long, long time. Something which frightens me and makes me want to shake my head from side to side saying no, no, no, no. I need to learn to pull a handle straight from the cup. I'm not talking about pulling handles and then attaching them. I mean the distasteful skill of attaching a partially pulled lug of clay onto the mug, and then pulling from the mug to finish. I think it is safe to say that what I am looking for will be found there. I know this is what I am seeing when I look others handles I appreciate-but I keep resisting and thinking I can figure a way around this. I think I am going to simply have to walk on through instead of around.

So this first mug. I like the shape of the mug but the handle seems more like the handle of a shovel, or something to be used to cantilever the cup. Notice how it, and all of these really are very thin where they attach to the cup at the top. It doesn't feel at all like it has grown from the cup or has a real relationship with the cup other than as something stuck on to help lift it. Boring. It's also kind of high, not that high handles are bad, but why is it high? What does that contribute to the pot? Nothing that I can see.

This second cup I think visually actually works well. Although it still has the issue of a lack of substance and being just sort of stuck on, it seems to grow up from the foot in a much nicer curve, kind of following the curve of the cup a little. Sadly this is not a great handle, but probably one of the most successful from this batch.

This handle below is awful in many ways. Again no feeling of growth from the pot, and it's big but attached in such a way that even with it's size you couldn't really get a few fingers in. It's like a two fingered handle that could fit four fingers in an awkward way. It does follow the curve of the base of the pot pretty well, so I guess it has one redeeming quality.

Yikes, yikes, yikes. Okay I have several similar to this. These are what I am coming to think of as the bad bridesmaid dress handles. Can you see it now? This little mug waddling down the isle with that big bow on the back of it's butt? How embarrassing for it. If I put another one on the other side and a little face it would also make a nice ear.

This handle below I think is just too high. Same lack of prescence and growth from the pot again as well. There is just nothing inviting about these. Nothing that can make you mentally imagine picking up the mug and holding it in your hand.

This handle below is almost successful in a way I think. It has that same lack of growth but I like the shape. However it feels very low to me. I'm probably being a little too hard on this one. I kind of like it, but something is stopping me from really liking it. Maybe if it just had a little more of a substantial attatchment that would do it.

Here again is one of my favorite mugs, except the handle. It suffers from the bow on butt syndrome, but this one sticks out so far I actually think of it more like victorian squeezed into a corset and then something wierd under my dress to make it stick really far out in the back cause it's the fashion syndrome. It looks like it should go have a cup of tea and a crumpet.

So I guess that's about it for now. Thanks for listening to my critique. It actually helps me to figure out what is wrong. I think I might try and post a few images soon of some handles of other potters cups that I feel are successful and try and figure out why. Bye for now!


brandon phillips said...

i'm thinking the handle is too thin? raw glazing/slipping does best with "meaty" work. fragile appendages are usually the first to go, especially if they have a dramatic curve, gravity will take it down.

you could try letting the piece get to the absolute latest stage of leatherhard(it'll still go back soft) it might hold up a little better.

have you tried pulling the handle from the piece? it usually results in a stouter handle, but that may not be your preference.

unfortunately there are some pieces that just don't take to raw glazing/slipping.

Deborah Woods said...

I agree that it has a lot to do with the thinness of the handle, and yes I definitely want them to be a little more stout. I'm heading in that direction. Thanks for the advice.

doug fitch said...

Hi Deborah, I just came to you via Pul Jessop's blog.
I enjoyed this critique, you're right, sometimes the blog is a useful tool to help think things through. I had the same trouble with my handles breaking like that when I slipped them too soon, so I always leave them overnight now before dipping them. I'm sure the pulled handle is the way forward for you, I think it has an effect on the clay particles so that the handle has more integral strength. Pulled handles always have a spring and rhythm to them too, particularly if the simple, microscopic lines from the pulling action are left on.

I've been enjoying some of the markmaking on your earlier posts, very fine indeed

Deborah Woods said...

Hi Doug. Thanks for checking my blog out. I actually used to pull all of my handles but didn't care for them either. But I pulled the clay, then cut a piece off and attatched it and was done (that's the way I was taught). Now I want to try pulling from the mug itself I think and see if that gets me what I'm looking for. It's frustrating knowing what you want and seeing it on someone else's pot and not really knowing how to get there.