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Ground Breaking

Reuse, recycle, reduce. We hear these ideas all the time and I tend to think they are good ones. It comes in especially great when someone gives me an old kiln.  That is exactly what happened when the electric kiln that we used for cone 6 glaze firing gave up the ghost at Callanwolde. It’s a good size kiln, much bigger than my electric kiln but I’m not interested in rewiring this one. You may remember I did that with my electric kiln when I installed the kiln sitter (you can read about that here) which I got from another free kiln.

My plan for this kiln is to make it a reduction kiln since that is the look I like best for my pots. I am even considering adding a stoke hole so I can feed some small piece of wood into the kiln for some ash and wood effects.

Before I can start converting it into a gas kiln I need to build a kiln shed. My current kiln room is fine for the electric kiln but it’s too crowded to add flame to the mix. I’m designing a simple lean-to type shed that will have a m…

Hand Built Pottery Cups

Even though my pots tend to be wheel thrown I do know how to handbills and that is what I’m teaching my students. Several people in the class are fairly new to clay and the others are interested in learning more techniques in hand building so that’s what I’m teaching. It’s really fun also because I’m getting to do something different. Of course I’m having so much fun I’m tempted to add a line of handbuilt pots to my repertoire.

The project for this week was to make cups. I showed the students how to use a template to mark the slab. They then cut out the form, cut beveled edges and joined the piece together. We had a nice discussion about the seam that was created at this join. About half the class does not like the seam, the other half like it and wanted to keep and embellish it.  Personally, I like the seam.  I really want my hand crafted pottery to look hand crafted; that’s the beauty of it in my mind.  I feel this beauty can be created with a nice finish, it doesn’t have to be sloppy, it just has to speak of the maker.

Handbuilt Ceramic Cups by Future Relics Gallery
Hand Built Laced Mugs

I added a few coils which made it look like the cup was laced up. I’m going to leave these two without handles and I’m going to make a couple with handles. Next week’s lesson will be on handles.

I also wanted to keep the join on the bottom very visible. Not only does it add interest to the piece but it creates an obvious place to stop glazing but the lip is a place that can catch a bit of runny glaze that might otherwise cause the pot to stick to the kiln shelf. I love it when the practical meets the beautiful. I guess that’s another reason why I make mostly functional pottery.

Anyway, I think they are really cute and intend to make more. I hope other folks like them as much as my students and I do.

In the meantime I’m still looking for a good pottery wheel for my studio space at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. If you’d like to help with the funding and receive a nice gift please click here:

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. Those are great cups. I like seeing seems on hand built cups, they add interest and possibilities for finishing.

    1. Thanks Michèle, I do too, my students had fun finishing that seam.

  2. I never think to make handbuilt mugs, you have inspired me, hopefully I won't have the cracking at the seams I had in the recent past with the new clay I'm using. Did you miter the seams ?

    1. Yes Linda, the seams are beveled for strength.

  3. Cute stuff indeed. I always feel awkward handbuilding, because wheel throwing is so tidy in comparison!


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