Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting a handle on refining my handles

Handles can be a real pain to learn to create. I drank some coffee from an early mug of mine at my father's farm in Waxhaw, NC, this Thanksgiving. While I enjoyed the experience, I wouldn't think of using such a mug if it weren't mine. The handle was skinny, ugly and had sharp edges. The picture above shows one of my latest handles on a small pitcher.

While scrutinizing some pots from my first two firings in my Manabigama wood-fired kiln, I began to think the way I handled pots might need some alterations. In firing in a atmosphere designed for natural ash and flashing, every nuance on the outside of a pot might be displayed once the pot is "decorated" by the flame.

With glazes, I learned to leave behind subtle traces of finger swipes and such which I felt were enhanced by glaze coverage. While perusing handled pots from my first wood-firings, I began to wonder if I needed to clean up or alter my handling.

Handle on left from wood-firing; on right, from glaze firing

I may be barking up the wrong tree on this, or I may change my mind, or it might be for other reasons that I find myself in this conundrum, but I am always looking at my work with a critical eye. Subtle changes to pots can have an acute effect on the way a pot looks, and new possibilities intrigue me.

Perhaps, it's got something to do with bringing my pots up to a newer level of craftsmanship out of respect for the newer method of firing, or out of respect for the fire.

My usual way of attaching a handle

A more 'refined' way of attaching a handle

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