Handbuilding Video: How to Make a Handbuilt Ceramic Planter Using a Simple Cardboard Form

Graham Sheehan cuts a clay slab using a cardboard template. The slabs he cuts will then be constructed into a planter using a cardboard form.

Making my own planters has been something that I have had on my to-do list for oh so many years, but for some reason, I just never seem to get to it. But after watching Graham Sheehan’s DVD Beginning Handbuilding, planters have moved back to the top of my list.


For today’s video, I have excerpted a cool planter project involving a simple cardboard form and some slabs. What I especially like about this project is that Graham turns very practical joint reinforcements into lovely loose decorative elements. Perhaps the reason I had been avoiding planters for so long was that I was obsessed with getting them perfect. Now I have been reminded that celebrating the joinery can be a practical and aesthetically appealing way to handbuild. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



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This clip was excerpted from Beginning Handbuilding with Graham Sheehan,
available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore

  • That was fun to watch. I made a piece quite similar to that (but more arched on the sides) and though it came out with the right shape there was some warpage to it. I am not a handbuilder (do it when I can’t throw) but I can say that letting the slabs sit up makes a world of difference.

  • Nice video, but why not make the mold to fit the outside and put the clay on the inside? Much easier with no problems with the seams. The seams can be reinforced while in the mold. After the clay as has set up some on the inside of the mold it will shrink enough to release easily and then the seams can be finished on the outside using a straight stick, sliding it up each side and thusly truing the sides and corners.

  • Interesting! Gives you details that I did not think of.

  • Thanks Graham, that video is truly inspiring!
    I love the “little” tips (ie: setting aside pieces to stiffen up!)
    There’s so many different techniques to use with clay, and
    Viva has a good suggestion too. When I make my planter,
    I’ll press leaves onto the sections first.
    That’s why I enjoy this site so much, I’m always learning
    and being motivated to try something different.

  • What are the advantages of Graham’s mold on the inside as opposed to Viva’s mold on the outside? Is it being able to press in the corners? Opinions anyone?

  • I think it’s amazing what one can with clay. This technique is simple enough for even beginners who keep throwing in vain and yet want to do something constructive to stack on to shelves in the furnace.

  • I love it ! Good old cardboard ! Thanks for the inspiration, Graham.

    P.S. I’ve just found a tread of contact to the old Viennese Master potter to whom I was apprenticed to in the 70’s ( in Melbourne, Australia.) I happened, by chance, to read a British backpackers 2007 blog and he mentioned meeting an old potter by the name of Franz Kukowetz….Wonder if he’s still alive ? No email, so… Snail mail.

  • Just another twist, think it is great! I am fairly new to the pottery world, retired, I don’t think I will be able to try all the different things show in Ceramic Arts Daily, my computer is loaded with ideas I would like to try now to find the time! Keep up the Great work!!!

  • If you have the template on the inside it makes viewing the project easier to see for the demo as well as supports the piece and the finished piece of work will also be slightly larger

  • Very informative video. Haven’t done much handbuilding recently, but sure gives me good ideas. Thanks.

  • The mold needs to be much stronger and well built if you are going to push on the inside of the form. You might spend so much time building the form that you might not really save much time unless you make many works.

  • Another great video. Thank you so much. I sometimes feel the need to do something completely different from my usual work in porcelain which is more decorative than functional so will probably make a similar planter, but the techniques etc can so readily be applied to any handbuilt piece. Thank you also to the people who post questions answers and comments – it all adds to a superb site.

  • I have a quite large rectangular teapot mold in the studio I use. I usually tear shapes embossed with lace to fit randomly inside. No seems at the corners to worry about. I just press the randomly shaped clay pieces into the mold, wait until it comes away from the plaster and afix a bottom to it. It works like a charm. I think I’ll try to use the mold for a planter. So much clay, so little time. Thanks for the inspiration. Just in time for the spring market.

  • This will be a good new form for me. Since Viva visited here I’ve learned what I seek to know, and am receiving much needed instruction. It would be nice to have a large workshop here at my clay art gallery event center in Spicewood, Tx. Thanks again Viva, for signing me up!
    Red Falcon Pottery

  • Thanks from France, it’s very interesting,
    I don’t speak very well english but it’s a very informative video !

  • Hi there, I thought this is a great idea since I have made vases with a triangular shape just by cutting the slabs and letting them leather hard before attaching them together. I like to texture the pieces before I attach them and I use plastic instead of paper so no residue attaches to the slabs. I will be making more triangler shapes similar to Graham’s pieces, also the teapot idea sounds really intersting also from Christine.

  • Ola! muito bom , fácil de fazer, a cada dia nos nos surpreendemos com os belos trabalhos muito obrigado tchau

  • To SANDI,

    I am not a potter – BUT I have just found this thread because you were talking about my father in law FRANZ KUKOWETZ, the potter from Austria who also taught in Melbourne!

    I can be contacted at gibowetz@internode.on.net


  • I may show this video to my 7th/8th grade ceramics class as a possible slab assignment! Great job, thanks!

  • This was a great video. I really appreciated all the tips.

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