Mug Handle Shapes

Brightly colored mugs with a variety of mug handle shapes.

Have you ever noticed how the handle can make or break a mug? I’m not talking about the handle’s functionality, but its shape. There are a few classic mug handle shapes, each has its own distinct benefits and drawbacks.

Brightly colored mugs with a variety of mug handle shapes.
There are many mug handle shapes out there.

Mug handles

There are all sorts of different mug handle shapes out there! Some are big, some are small, some are round, and some are pointy. But no matter what their shape, size, or color, they all have one thing in common: they help you hold on to your mug!

So which one is the best? Well, that all depends on your personal preferences and the style of mug you are making.

Do you like big, chunky handles that are easy to grip? Or do you prefer dainty handles that add a bit of elegance to your piece? Maybe you like geometric handles that add a pop of personality, or maybe you prefer simple, clean-lined handles that let the design of the mug itself shine.

Whichever mug handle shape you prefer, make sure you choose one that’s comfortable for you to hold.

It is very important to make a mug handle that will be comfortable for the person using your mug. The handle should be easy to grip, large enough, well-constructed, and strongly attached.

Types of handles for mugs

There are two basic types of handles that are usually created for ceramic mugs, the loop, and the lug.

The loop handle is, as the name sounds, made from a loop of clay. Each end of the loop is attached to the side of the mug, creating a loop for the mug user to grip with their whole hand. This type of handle is good for any mug type, but particularly for large mugs that may be heavy when filled, as they allow a good strong grip.

The lug handle is generally smaller than a loop handle, and is made from a small piece of clay that has been shaped, and is attached to the side of the mug. It is gripped with the finger tips. This type of handle is best used for smaller mugs that do not need a sturdy grip to hold them.

For more on techniques for making different types of pottery handles see: 7 Pottery Handles Techniques

Shapes of handles for mugs

Each of these types of handles can be made in many different shapes. Here are a few of the most common mug handle shapes:


As you might guess from the name, this handle is shaped like the letter “C”. It is a very popular shape for mug handles. The large rounded shape makes it perfect for gripping the mug without it slipping from your hand.

Great for: tradition style mugs, sturdy-shaped mugs that need a sturdy handle to balance out their shape, large mugs that may be heavy when filled.

Pink mug with C-shaped handle held in hands.
C-Shaped mug handle.


A D-handle is similar to a C handle in that it forms a loop for the hand to fit in, but it has a more rectangular shape and larger space for the user’s hand.

It’s (often) not fancy, but it does the job!

Great for: large mugs that need a good grip, mug users with large hands, sturdy-shaped mugs that need a sturdy handle to balance out their shape.


A rounded handle made from a closed loop of clay. They are often small, and only have space to loop a single finger through. For this reason, they are generally best for lighter, daintier mugs that do not need a strong grip to hold.

Curved handle

Add a little more style and sophistication to your mug with a curved handle. Often a variation of a C- or D-shaped handle, a curved handle, where the bottom of the loop is affixed to the mug in the other direction creating a curved shape.

This creates a more feminine look, and (often) a slightly smaller handle space. This means this handle shape is better for smaller mugs that do not need to be gripped as tightly as a large heavy mug, or for users with smaller hands.

Great for: smaller, slender or curved mugs, a more feminine look, mug users with smaller hands.

Bright turquoise mug with a curved handle.
Curved mug handle shape.

Open handle

An open handle is similar to any of the loop type handles mentioned above with the exception that it is only fixed to the mug at the top. This creates a hook that can be used for hanging to cup up.

With this type of handle it is important ensure that it is secured strongly to the body of the mug, since it only has one point of attachment.

Good for: adding a point of difference, hanging cups for storage.

Shaped or Geometric

Unleash your creativity and try making a handle with an unusual shape. This type of handle is often the focus point of the mug and can add some zing to an otherwise plain mug.

Great for: an eye-catching design, adding a focal point to a simple mug.

Mug with a heart-shaped handle.
Heart-shaped mug handle.

Final thoughts

There are many different types of mug handles that can be used to create a variety of looks for your pottery.

Each type has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so think about the user of your mug when selecting the type of mug handle you will create.

I hope that this article has inspired you to experiment with some new and different handles on your next pottery mug project. With a little practice, you’ll be able to add your own personal touch to any piece of pottery.

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