Search the Daily

Published Aug 10, 2009

Having blacksmiths, farmers, and painters in his ancestry, ceramic artist Joseph Pintz has always had an appreciation for those who make things with their hands. So it is no surprise that he now makes a living making things with his hands and teaching others to do so. Drawing from a Shaker sensibility, his work is not ornate or intricate, but rather understated and direct like the objects his ancestors may have used in their given trades (and kitchens).

But, while those objects may have been used for utilitarian purposes only, Joseph’s bowls, toolboxes, and cooking implements straddle the line between functional pottery and nonfunctional ceramic sculpture and examine our physical and emotional connection to our domestic objects. Today, Joseph shares his clay body and glaze recipe he uses to give his work that vintage, rustic look. Plus he talks about the process behind his rough-hewn, handbuilt pottery. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

During graduate school, I began experimenting with clay from a local brick manufacturer (Endicott Clay Products, Fairbury, Nebraska). Their "potting clay" has great working characteristics - plasticity, density and a rich color. It also has the benefit of not being over-processed. With a few minor alterations, the clay that was sent down the conveyor belt to make bricks has become the backbone of my clay body.

I employ a handful of rudimentary handbuilding techniques to create my forms. I pound soft clay over bisque molds with a mallet to establish basic shapes, such as bowls. Paper patterns are used to create more delicate forms, such as cups, and thicker forms (toolboxes and plates) are carved from a solid block. Although working reductively is not always practical, it allows me to find the form more intuitively. Once the clay stiffens to a leather-hard stage, forms are trimmed and refined further. This dredges up the coarse grog within the clay and creates a unique texture. Once the clay dries to a bone-dry state, I brush on several layers of slip or terra sigillata. After bisque firing, I apply glazes to create subtle, weathered surfaces that suggest a history of use. The work is then fired in an electric kiln to cone 02.


Raw Earthenware Clay BodyCone 04-02
Raw Material 
Cedar Heights Redart12.5%
Carbondale Red12.5%
Endicott Potting Clay70%
Grog (coarse and fine)15-25%
Add 1/4 cup barium carbonate to a 100 lb batch of this clay body to prevent scumming.
Hirsh Satin Matt Base GlazeCone 04-02
Raw Material 
Gerstley Borate32%
Lithium Carbonate9%
Nepheline Syenite4%
EPK Kaolin4%
For green, add: 
Chrome Oxide 
For yellow, add:1%
Yellow Stain8%
For light blue, add: 
Copper Carbonate



Joseph Pintz teaches ceramics at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and is represented by Turman Larison Contemporary ( in Helena, Montana. To see more of Pintz' work, visit