How to Make Sophisticated Pottery Forms Using the Most Basic of Tools

The pinch pot is the most elemental of pottery forms requiring simply one’s hands and a lump of clay. Because of this, it is often the first technique most of us learn when introduced to clay.

But that doesn’t mean it is merely a beginner technique. Many artists use pinching techniques to make sophisticated or complex forms. Lily Zuckerman makes beautiful vessels starting from a solid lump of clay, with no clay added and very little cut away. In today’s post, an excerpt from Sculpting and Handbuilding, (which is on sale today!) she explains her process. –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

 


 

A trip to Morocco, where the adobe buildings, cooking pots and geology inspired her forms, left Zuckerman with the sensation of seesawing between vast open countryside and claustrophobic narrow streets, zooming in and out from one vista to another. The presentation of her pinched vessels on vast farmhouse tables captures something of this sensation. Viewed from afar, as a horizontal panorama, the collection of vessels appears as clustered dwellings across the fields. Close up, they resemble buildings, walls, courtyards and alleyways.

The Process

“Starting with a solid block of clay, I slowly and methodically pinch the form. No clay is added and very little clay is trimmed away‚ encompassing many changes of state, from the uncomplicated lump, heavy with potential, through precarious and fluid chaos, and ending with the form.”

1. Initial stages of forming a vessel with her fingertips from a thick clay slab. 

 2. Pinching out the two chambers of the tray. 

3. Coaxing the clay upwards, refining the walls.

Photos: Lilly Zuckerman.

**First published in 2014

 

Comments
  • Amazing. I’ve made pinch pots before, but nothing like the above – I must have a go, also I’m interested in buying the book to learn more.

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