Puffy Pots: How to Use Double Walled Construction to Give Your Pottery Volume

Chaise Lounge Tray, 10 in. (25 cm) in length, handbuilt stoneware with glaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation.

Chaise Lounge Tray, 10 in. (25 cm) in length, handbuilt stoneware with glaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation.

Chris Pickett’s playful vessels are meant to evoke the comforting nature of childhood. The puffy forms reference stuffed animals and inflatable toys and the visible seams give the work a casual and relaxed feel.

Chris creates his inflated forms through double walled construction using slump molds and paper patterns. In today’s post, Chris takes us through this fun way of working. I especially love the way he makes his low relief surface pattern. Genius. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


The Chaise Lounge Tray

The Chaise Lounge Tray is assembled from slabs and utilizes slump molds and paper patterns (1). The body of the tray begins with a rolled slab. A paper stencil is placed on the fresh slab and pressed into the surface with a small rolling pin (2). When removed, the paper stencil leaves an embossed decorative motif, which will be the interior surface design. The embossed slab is then laid into the slump mold. A soft pouncing pad filled with sand is used to achieve the desired contour of the tray’s interior (3). The tray is then set aside until leather hard.

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The foot of the tray is constructed using a two-piece slump mold (4). The large piece defines the exterior circumference and the small piece the interior. A slab is laid over both pieces and pressed into the mold with the pouncing pad and allowed to dry (5). Once the foot has dried to leather hard, the mold may be removed (6) and the excess clay cut away (7). Thin slabs are added to the interior edges of the foot to create the pedestal on which the tray will sit (8). The pedestal foot is then attached to the bottom of the tray (9).

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The large pillow is constructed using slabs and paper stencils. Two stencils are used to create three shaped slabs that comprise the pillow form (10). The long rectangular pattern wraps around from the back of the tray to the interior, while the smaller pattern is used to create both sides of the pillow (11). Once assembled the pillow is attached to body of the tray (12).

The pillowed edges of the tray that run along the sides and front are also constructed using paper patterns. Once the pieces are cut from soft slabs (13), they are folded and manipulated into shape then attached to the rim of the tray (14).

The final step is to construct the small button accoutrements at the front of the tray (15). The buttons are used to connect the front and side pillow edges. Due to the malleable nature of clay, this attachment is always a little different from piece to piece, therefore a single paper pattern isn’t viable. The result is a trial-and-error assembly, until the correct fit is achieved.

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**First published in December 2011
Comments
  • Are the double-walled forms pierced anywhere to keep them from exploding in the kiln? or is there a gap I’m not seeing?

  • Great technique and lovely form. I love the stencil idea too. I would really love to see a video of this at some stage !!!what fun forms. thanks for sharing

  • What is the best method for cutting the styrofoam for molds? I have gotten very frustrated trying to cut the material because it crumbles and pulls rather than cutting smoothly.

  • To LeAnn:
    I cut styrofoam with a coping saw or by hand with a scroll saw blade. I then smooth the edges with sandpaper. I do all of this outside so those small static pieces of styrofoam will disappear into the grass 😉

  • I have a couple of Picketts pots and they are such a delight to handle.

    @Nancy there are subtly placed pinholes.

    @LeAnn This kind of Styrofoam is not as crumbly as the white stuff. An olfa utility blade extended quite far used in a sawing motion works well in my experience because it’s so thin and sharp.

  • I love the puffy parts!

    My question is where does one find a “pouncing pad”? I realize it’s a sand filled item, so I’m really more curious about the fabric of the pad itself. I haven’t found a ‘pouncing pad’ online anywhere, unless it’s under a brand name.
    I use a fine sand filled plastic bag which is okay, but leaves bag marks that have to be dealt with.

    Enlighten me!

  • Make your own pouncing pad with an old t-shirt circle, fine grain sand and then wrap it all up at the top to close.

    You can experiment on a slab with the material to make sure it doesn’t leave marks you don’t like before making.

    Sue

  • Well, this is exciting – I happen to own this piece and am looking at it on my living room shelf right now. I won it in the online fundraiser after Christa Assad’s house fire last year, and I always thought that it looked like a comfy crib. I am so happy to see how it was made, because I hadn’t been able to puzzle that out.

  • The spelling provided in both the title and article is acceptable as a quick dictionary or google search will show.

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