pinch pots

 coil pottery  clay pots 

Clay is great fun and I like schedule a clay unit around the end of November. Students are starting to get a bit restless with the holidays around the corner and working with clay recharges the energy in the studio. With a bit of control and technique they can have an earthenware pot at the end of their session other than a mud pie, although mud pies are fun too.

The three basic ways of making an earthenware pot are the pinch, slab and coil methods. Here is a very basic introduction to each of the methods:

  1. The Pinch Pot
    Make a handful of clay into a ball then push one of your thumbs into the middle of it. Leaving the thumb inside and pressing with the other fingers, you “pinch” and rotate. When the opening is big enough, you may want to place it on a surface and shape it using both hands and smoothing out cracks as you go.

  2. The Slab Pot
    Take a handful of clay and press it down with the palm of your hand. (This is often described as making a hamburger patty.) Use a roller to even out the surface and be careful not to roll it too thin. Cut a rectangle out of the “slab” of clay. The rectangle will be made into a cylinder by using the “score and slip” method to join the sides. Then you cut out a circle or base out of the slab to attach to the bottom also using the score and slip method.

  3. The Coil Pot
    One way to start is to make a circular slab base. Then you make a coil or “snake” by simply rubbing the clay between your hands. Measure the coil to a length that can be made into a ring and placed along the edge of the base. Attach the coil to either the side or on top of the base by using the score and slip method. Make as many of identical rings as you want then stack and join them. To give the pot extra support you may want to smooth out the crease between each coil on the inside of the pot.

Each kind of pot will need cracks smoothed out as you go, so just be careful not to use too much water which could lead to a collapsed pot. You may want to play around with the shape and add different textures to make it unique.