Designing for Function with Paul Donnelly

In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Daily Presents video series, Paul Donnelly shares his varied techniques for making pottery that functions well both aesthetically and in use. Using his tea trays – a cup and saucer set with an expanded tray for a snack or a spoon – as examples, Paul demonstrates how he works from idea, to design, to construction to create practical, yet beautiful objects. Paul begins on the wheel, his preferred method for forming vessels, and demonstrates how to create a “double volume” in which the interior of the form is different from the exterior. With attention to shape, form, and proportion, he explains his trimming and handle-making processes, as well as how he activates his surfaces with carving and sprigging techniques. Paul also explains how he uses variable molds for slip casting, which can be reconfigured into a number of shapes and allow for continual exploration of form and shape. The variety in Paul’s methods provides something for everyone!

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Paul Donnelly

About the Artist

Paul Donnelly is a studio potter residing in Kansas City, MO. He is currently an assistant professor of Ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute working with students in the vessel concentration. He earned his BFA from Edinboro University in 1997, and his MFA from the The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2008. He has participated in residency programs at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia; The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China; and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, ME. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has been published in numerous books and periodicals. To learn more about Paul Donnelly and see images of his work, please visit


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