Handle Evolution

Mastering your handles is a tough business.  There are so many things to remember when putting such a small, seemingly insignificant object together.  The best handles i’ve seen are the handles done with minimal effort.  Handles that make sense to your eyes and your hands.  Now laughing aside, how do you hold your favorite mug?  Are you a one finger, two finger or three finger holder?  Two handed?  Is your pinky up in the air when you drink your morning tea?

I generally like to put two fingers through the handle with thumb on crest of handle. (right handed).  BTW, those of you looking for handmade mugs can notice by the way the handle is made, whether it was made by a left handed person or a right handed person.  My handles pull slightly to the right.

When I first started to make handles, they were pretty nasty.  Very rough and ready with very little regard to aesthetics/proportion/size/shape.  Pretty much throwing all design aspects out the window and “plunk, there you have it” mentality.

As I noticed more and more advanced potters in class would “pull” their handles.  Some would make them separate from the mug and attach later, while others “pulled” their handles directly off the mug itself.  I began to practice in this order, until I eventually reached a proper level of dexterity to pull a handle off the freshly made mug body.

The best handles are the ones that suit your needs.  The handles that seem to say “I was made for your hand, use me please “–a match that can endure for many years.

I attended a workshop given by Matt Long about two years ago and boy, did he make it look so easy.  His work is sumptuous, much like butter is in any respectable homemade crust, but his handles were even better.  I still don’t know how he did it, but I bet he would say to me, just as I do to my students, “practice, practice, practice”.

Take care,


Matt Long


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