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Published Oct 27, 2021

Chris Pickett's playful vessels are meant to evoke the comforting nature of childhood. The puffy forms reference stuffed animals and inflatable toys and the visible seams give the work a casual and relaxed feel.

Chris creates his inflated forms through double walled construction using slump molds and paper patterns. In today's post, Chris takes us through this fun way of working. I especially love the way he makes his low relief surface pattern. Genius. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

The Chaise Lounge Tray

The Chaise Lounge Tray is assembled from slabs and utilizes slump molds and paper patterns (1). The body of the tray begins with a rolled slab. A paper stencil is placed on the fresh slab and pressed into the surface with a small rolling pin (2). When removed, the paper stencil leaves an embossed decorative motif, which will be the interior surface design. The embossed slab is then laid into the slump mold. A soft pouncing pad filled with sand is used to achieve the desired contour of the tray’s interior (3). The tray is then set aside until leather hard.

The foot of the tray is constructed using a two-piece slump mold (4). The large piece defines the exterior circumference and the small piece the interior. A slab is laid over both pieces and pressed into the mold with the pouncing pad and allowed to dry (5). Once the foot has dried to leather hard, the mold may be removed (6) and the excess clay cut away (7). Thin slabs are added to the interior edges of the foot to create the pedestal on which the tray will sit (8). The pedestal foot is then attached to the bottom of the tray (9).


The large pillow is constructed using slabs and paper stencils. Two stencils are used to create three shaped slabs that comprise the pillow form (10). The long rectangular pattern wraps around from the back of the tray to the interior, while the smaller pattern is used to create both sides of the pillow (11). Once assembled the pillow is attached to body of the tray (12).

The pillowed edges of the tray that run along the sides and front are also constructed using paper patterns. Once the pieces are cut from soft slabs (13), they are folded and manipulated into shape then attached to the rim of the tray (14).


Chaise Lounge Tray, 10 in. (25 cm) in length, handbuilt stoneware with glaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation.

The final step is to construct the small button accoutrements at the front of the tray (15). The buttons are used to connect the front and side pillow edges. Due to the malleable nature of clay, this attachment is always a little different from piece to piece, therefore a single paper pattern isn’t viable. The result is a trial-and-error assembly, until the correct fit is achieved.

**First published in 2011