A Study in Handles

For my regular readers, you will know that I went from hating handles to being fascinated by them. For my new readers, see these posts from December and February to learn more about my journey with handles.

Making handles is a big challenge.  But once I got the hang of it thanks to Gay Smith, I haven’t been able to stop myself from exploring and experimenting with them.  Swoop up or down or straight off the pot.  Crimped, smooshed or flattened.

I recently started making these forms I call letter carriers.  Low oval-ed shapes perfect for holding the mail, stationary or other desk items.  Also good for bread sticks or carrot sticks or other yummy treats.  I recently made a series of 6 and decided to use them as a handle experiment.  This is similar to what Emily Murphy did a while back with cups. This exercise is about exploring the form.  In this case, I was exploring the form of a handle.  I highly recommend this kind of exercise no matter what the aspect of a pot you want to improve.  You learn so much.

In this case, these handles are mostly decorative, although imagine the user will use them to pick up and move the piece around.  They don’t have to be large enough to fit your hand in, or even a finger.  As I continued with each set of handles, I realized that they were often more about creating negative space as opposed to functional space.

I haven’t yet decided which is my favorite and will make it into my regular design. Right now, I want to sit with all of them.  Yet, I would love thoughts from my readers.


Droopy loop

Perky loop


Tiny loop

Standing at Attention


About Claytastic

Health coach. Writer. Teacher. Artist. Living an amazing life with MS. Interested in bringing peace and beauty into people's lives.
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4 Responses to A Study in Handles

  1. Denise Joyal says:

    I think the Crimped handles work best on your letter carriers. They seem to have a presence that the others lack. Additionally, they seem a bit more functionally viable. They look sturdy and fit the pot well. Good luck with them! I look forward to seeing more!

  2. carter says:

    Hey Laurie,

    Saw your comment in the Don Pilcher post on S&D and couldn’t help but feel that we, your loyal readership, let you down when you asked for thoughts on this handle project. For the record, I had written out a long comment for you, but canceled it before posting because even though you asked for it I felt I was being presumptuous.

    Well, these were some of my thoughts:

    I think you are on a good path with these handles. There are a number that I feel you could effectively incorporate into what you do and achieve some pretty spectacular results. I think they are MUCH superior to the handles you had on previous ‘letter carriers’ (I am thinking specifically of the ones from the April 12th post). When you showed us those earlier versions I was so impressed with the potential of the forms but felt really let down by the handles. I think you are on much better ground with these ones!

    The only one that I think doesn’t work as it is is the ‘flattened’ one, but I think that is only a matter of proportion (too big) and not of design. You also state that you “haven’t yet decided which is my favorite and will make it into my regular design” as if you need to only settle on making just one type. I would say that you are under no pressure to stop making as many varieties as you feel good about, and that each one you have made thus far adds something valuable and different to the pots. What possible reason could you have for rejecting options that add exciting and interesting variety to your work?

    One last comment I had for you was that all of these handles are from the school of the flat strap design. They all taper from top to bottom attachments, are all fairly flat on the top surface with varying degrees of roundedness on the bottom, and all have an edge on the side profile. There is nothing wrong with this, but as you are exploring options what other ideas are there? In two you reattach the lower end directly to the handle itself, and this is a great solution for making a different statement, but what else can you do? So often we only play around within the framework of what we already know and are comfortable with, as if we had a set of personal rules. I would explore what you accept as the correct way and break as many of those rules as you can. Not necessarily to end up making pots that particular way, but to get you to see that there are truly no meaningful limits beyond what we impose on ourselves, and that the responsibility for what we end up doing is strictly our own, and only a manifestation of the breadth of our imagination.

    Good luck! I look forward to seeing what else you come up with. Keep up the good work!

    • Carter,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I’m on the road in MA right now, but wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the thought you put into this. It doesn’t have take a village to make a pot, but it certainly is a lot more fun.

      I agree with you that the flattened handle was too big for the form. And that there are so many more possibilities I can explore. As I napped while my husband drove up the Taconic parkway in NY, I was awoken with yet another handle form idea, this one slab built. As I am about to drive off to spend some more time at Ferrin gallery, I know I will be bombarded with more ideas. It will be weeks before I start making again (I’m moving into glazing and firing mode on my return). However, I am recording all these ideas for future reference. As much as I love the finished product, it is the making and experimenting that sources my dreams.

      More later,

  3. Pingback: A Study in Handles – the Aftermath « The Spirit of Clay, by Laurie Erdman

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