Attaching handles to mugs requires the right degree of hardness/softness in the clay, hard enough to manipulate without distortion, soft enough to get a good fix and to press gently into shape. My handles are extruded and attached with dabs of slip, so they can be fairly hard, so can the mugs. My rule is, “Slip for a hard fix, water for a soft fix.” So, if you pull your handles on the mugs, you will need to attach your soft lug of clay with water.

Here the handles have been cut to length and bent immediately into shape and they’re hardening off a bit. The weather has been warm and the mugs have got a bit too hard – I made them on Monday and had to go to a meeting yesterday and I wrapped them in polythene sheet, but they’ve dried out quickly. In extremis, you can speed up drying with a blowtorch or slow down with a mist of sprayed water.

The ends of the handles are shaped so that they fit straight away. The top of the handle is cut with the curved brass blade to fit the curve of the mug, angled slightly away from the top to get the right angle when fixed. The bottom is cut on the slant with the little straight-bladed knife. The handle is lens shaped in section, flat on the bottom and curved on the top, and it’s important to cut the bottom with the flat side uppermost so that the angled cut is snug to the side of the mug.

It’s all this preparation that takes time, attaching the handle takes a few seconds. The position on the mug is scored, top and bottom, two dabs of slip, the handle is taken up  between finger and thumb, the mug in the other hand, and then, plonk! On it goes. Check from all angles if it’s straight, then clean up with a wet brush and then sponge off any irregularities on the rim, any crumbs of clay or any finger marks. Important then to wrap well in plastic sheet to allow the clay to equalise in moisture content so that no crack forms between handle and mug.

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