How to Handbuild a Hexagonal Jar Using a Template

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Throwing is great, but if you are interested in exploring more angular shapes handbuilding is a good way to go. If you want to be able to repeat those forms consistently, using a template will save you time and hassle.

In today’s post, an excerpt from Handbuilding Techniques, Don Hall shares how to make a hexagonal box using a simple template. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


Like many potters, I began learning pottery by throwing. After many years, I began handbuilding, and many contented hours followed. This project on building a six-sided box requires no throwing skills. The angles involved can be used for any six-sided form, so by adjusting the measurements, you can make a piece of any height or width.


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steps-1-6

To begin, make a template for the piece you’re making. Include foot and lid pieces as needed. The box here will be 5 inches wide (figure 1). Roll out a ¼- to 58-inch-thick slab and allow it to dry for a bit. Make a stencil from the pattern, mark the slab and cut out. Pieces should match (figure 2).

A six-sided form needs edges trimmed at a 30° angle. You can make a wire cutter from a 2×3 inch piece of wood with a ¾×1½-inch notch (figure 3).

Dampen and score each edge. Fold up the sides and attach each one at a time to its neighbor (figure 4). The clay should be damp enough to not crack. Place coils on the inside of each seam and smooth them out (figure 5). Using a metal rib, clean up the outside of each seam (figure 6).

steps-7-12

For the top, trim all three edges of the triangular panels to 30° (figure 7). Score and dampen the edges of each panel and assemble them (figure 8). Attach coils to the inside, smooth out then attach the lid to the base of the form (figure 9).

hall finished

Now it is time to cut off the lid. Use a needle tool to score a line around the form. With a fettling knife held at an angle (upward or downward—your choice), cut off the top (figure 10). When cutting the lid, use a half circle in one side as a key so that it’s easy to place the lid (figure 11). Using the 30° tool, cut the edges off the sides of each foot segment. Assemble and attach the base adding coils to the seams (figure 12).

**First published in July 2015

Comments
  • Dj W.

    1) Just wondering if the left-over triangular pieces (cut outs from between the main body pattern) wouldn’t be the right size to use for the lid?
    2) Also, (attention Ceramic Arts Daily) the photo (#3 of 4) containing the main template pattern does not open.
    A very interesting piece: ). Thank you: )

  • Kathleen H.

    Cannot enlarge photos 1 through 6, without which numbers on templates are impossible to see, boo whoo. Love this jar.

  • Jeffrey J D.

    Thanks for the freebie….I’ll let you know more after I’ve had a chance to study this. But, it’s awesome having the opportunity to check out all this great information.

    Cheers!

  • Diane L.

    Whoops – my comment was posted incomplete
    To make a wire cutting tool using a 1″ cutout,

    For a ___ you cut an angle of ___ in the clay and attach the wire ___” down:
    square 45 1
    pentagon 36 1 3/8
    hexagon 30 1 3/4
    octagon 23.75 3 3/8
    Hope this is helpful!

  • Diane L.

    Nicely presented — and I love the wire cutting tool. BUT – as a math teacher I calculate that your tool actually makes 27 degree angles, which adds up to a minus 6 degree error per seam, since you are forming a 54 degree angle not 60. This would be 36 degrees off for the piece as a whole and while you can compensate with the additional coil in the seam, it might be easier to make the tool with the following measures: 1″ and 1.75″, giving an angle of 29.75 degrees for the cuts.

    TO make tools for other angles here are some more ratios (all use 1″ at the top:
    for a ____ you need an angle of ___, attach wire___ down:
    square 45 1″
    pentagon 54 1 3/8″
    hexagon

  • Sarah M.

    Beautiful! I find it hard to get the clay the correct dryness that it will stay flat and stand up, but not crack when folding the pieces. Any tips? Thanks! Sarah

  • Charmaine W.

    I am a retired math teacher who is now throwing and hand building for fun.
    So geometry and pottery together, I love it. Thank you can’t wait to give it a try.

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