Friday, March 25, 2011

Comedy for Throwers: Handbuilding a Bowl

It takes about 16-17 separate steps to handbuild a simple roly-poly bottom bowl, even though there are only two shapes to cut out. The first is a circle that is slumped into a mold to get the concave shape, the second shape is a long strip of clay cut to the height you want for the sides of the bowl, and the length that will go around the inside edge of your bowl bottom.

Let the bottom concave circle set up to leather hard, but keep the side strip moist and fairly pliable. Once the bottom has set up it is time to put them together. Bevel the short edges of the strip and then seal them together to form a ring of clay.

Attach the side ring to the base, giving yourself a little bit of overlapping edge on the outside.

When it's all together it'll look like this.

Then using your thumb and forefinger compress the side ring to the bowl base with as much pressure as you can to make the attachment secure and begin to smooth out the transition inside. Here is where the bit of overlap on the outside helps keep the sides attached to the base with all the inside compression outward.

I use a piable rib to shape the inside of the bowl, and then use a piece of plastic to compress the rim of the bowl.


Because the base and sides are slightly different moisture contents good idea to cover loosely with plastic so it can dry slowly and the seam can relax without distorting as it dries.

By now all the potters who throw are probably having a good chuckle at how long this took.


  1. Like the look! Wheel junkies will probably chuckle, but hey, you can make them without all those super fancy/expensive tools! So there! ;)

  2. Of course my fancy slab roller sits in the background even tho it wasn't mentioned... This is of course a direct copy of your great How-To's.