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Published Jun 10, 2024

As we all know, the possibilities for adding texture to pots are virtually infinite. All you have to do is take a quick look around your home or studio and you will find a plethora of objects that will make a good impression in clay.

In today's post, an excerpt from the May/June 2024 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Ben Eberle shares how he uses an old floorboard to create a unique striped effect on his pots, as well as his tricks for getting the clay just the right consistency for mark making! –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

PS. To learn how Ben makes the spout and handle for this teapot, check out the full article from the May/June 2024 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

When you have your desired shape, torch dry the main body (1). Too dry and you’ll lose plasticity, but too wet and your texture block will stick. In general, you don’t want it to steam. Caution: Keep the torch moving in small circles. Don’t focus on one spot.

1 Use a thin metal rib to remove all throwing marks as you refine the final form. Compress and torch the wall as you go. 2 Begin pinstriping by pushing the interior wall out gently into the groove of the wooden tool on the exterior.

Adding Surface Texture

Before you begin to texture the surface, you need to source an old board with indentations. I use the backside of an old piece of flooring (see 2).

Place your texture block against the exterior surface of the body, then, using your finger on your other hand, press firmly from the inside out into the groove (2) and begin sliding your finger up the wall. Keep the block straight, focusing on a smooth, singular gesture. Any pause in the pressure will show on the exterior. You want intentional fluidity here, not indecisiveness. Put eight pinstripes on the wall by quartering the form and then eighthing it. Stand over the pot to eyeball the spacing correctly (3, 4). It doesn’t have to be perfect!

3 This recess makes a little bump. Feel for the groove and run your finger up the wall, pressing firmly as you go. 4 Quarter the walls. Then finding the midpoint on each side, quarter the circumference again leaving eight even sections.Teapot, 11¾ in. (30 cm) in height, Laguna B Mix, wood/soda fired to cone 11, 2023.

Ben Eberle is a studio potter, educator, writer, and kiln builder working in the Hilltowns of western Massachusetts. He received a BA in creative writing from Skidmore College in 2003 and his MFA from San Jose State University in 2008. He accepted a teaching position at Concord Academy that fall. In 2014, he moved to Conway, Massachusetts, to begin his career as a studio artist. In addition to showing his work regionally and nationally, he is represented by Plinth Gallery in Denver, Colorado, and The Nineteen Twentytwo in Los Angeles, California.