Another Facet of Faceting: Adding Pizzaz to Wheel-Thrown Pottery

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Faceting clay is a great way to make a round wheel-thrown form look more interesting. While many facet clay with rasps at the leatherhard stage, Hank Murrow prefers to do it on a freshly thrown pot right on the wheel head. Then he continues to throw the form to make the marks from the faceting even more interesting. (He enjoys this technique so much, he even came up with his own line of faceting tools)


In today’s post, an excerpt from the newly revised Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills, Hank demonstrated how he makes a faceted wheel thrown bowl on the pottery wheel. –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


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Faceting a pot—slicing clay from the form using a fettling knife, wire tool, or sometimes a Surform tool—is usually done at the leather-hard stage. Several years ago I saw Joe Bennion facet bowls while they were still wet—just after the initial form was created then continue to throw to create a stretched facet. Through experimentation, I created my own version of this process, as well as a wire tool with interchangeable wires to achieve different surface effects. Here’s the method I use.


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Process To make a faceted bowl, begin with 2¹⁄₂ pounds of clay and open the form like a bowl, ribbing the bottom so you don’t have to trim too much clay later (figure 1). The bowl is kept to a cylindrical shape, keeping the wall thickness to about a ¹⁄₂ inch or a little more. I rib the inside as well to eliminate finger marks (figure 2), and then give the rim a beveled profile with my chamois or rib (figure 3).


The first cut with the wire tool trims away about a third of the wall and is cut parallel to the wall profile (figure 4). Turn the wheel 180° and make the second cut, then 90° for the third cut and another 180° for the fourth. Cut the facets between the first four cuts (figure 5) and smooth the edges with a wet finger.



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One of the worst things you can do in any craft is pick up bad habits or techniques. Richard Phethean, a professional English potter for more than forty years, provides a life-time of throwing know-how in his new book, Throwing. Written to inform potters of professional standards, you’ll discover a wealth of helpful information whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out..

Read more and download an excerpt!



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Use a dull wooden rib and dry fingers to open the bowl, stretching the wire cuts and dropping the rim (figure 6). It takes about three passes to develop a full bowl shape. When the bowl has half-dried, turn it over and place on a sheet of foam rubber to protect the rim. When ready to trim, place the bowl on a damp clay chuck and use a small piece of plastic as a bearing surface for the finger while trimming the outside (figure 7). Follow by trimming the inside and finishing the foot with the chamois.


Hank Murrow has been a potter since 1958 operating a studio, teaching, inventing tools, presenting workshops, and exhibiting. Visit his website at



For more interesting wheel throwing techniques, download your free copy of Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills.



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