How to Make a Lid for a Jar on the Pottery Wheel


When you’ve gotten the hang of throwing mugs and bowls and are ready to branch out into some more challenging forms, making jars is a great step. Throwing the body of the jar isn’t too much different from throwing a cylinder, but you might wonder how to make a lid for a jar.

In today’s post, an excerpt from the May/June 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Jared Zehmer gives great instruction for how to make one of the most popular types of lids for jars. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

P.S. Learn how Jared Zehmer creates square, inserted lids for his faceted jar forms in the May/June 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated.

Great Instruction on How to Make a Classic Jar lid

by Jared Zehmer

Making a Round Lid

To create a jar with a round lid that fits over the rim and has a flange that drops down into the jar, begin after figure 5 by pulling the leftover thick rim inward and upward, reducing the thickness and creating a thin, rounded edge with a slight upward sweep. Take a measurement of the inside (A), cut the jar free from the bat with a wire tool, and then set it aside to dry to the leather-hard stage while keeping it on the bat.

Amp up your throwing!
Once you’ve gotten a handle on throwing – centering is no longer the nightmare it once was and your pots aren’t so heavy they would make better door stops than serving vessels – it is time to start thinking about more challenging forms, and that is where Throwing Techniques comes in. You may want to try your hand at complex multi-part pieces like teapots, or just alter forms out of round. No matter where your interests lie, Throwing Techniques will help you take your skills to the next level.


A Thin and raise the jar rim so a flanged lid can sit on top. Measure the opening.


B Throw a flanged lid off the hump starting as a bowl form with a thick rim.

I prefer to throw flanged lids off the hump, and start with about 3 pounds of centered clay, and use smaller portions of the top of the mound to create the lid. This is basically forming a small upright bowl while staying within the parameters of the lid’s measurement (B). Create the lid’s flange using the corner of a wooden rib (C). The outer diameter of the flange itself should equal the measurement.

Use the tip of a wooden rib to undercut about an inch below the lid, turn off the wheel and cut through the undercut with a wire tool and set the lid aside to dry to the leather-hard stage.


C When you reach the right diameter, use a rib to create the flange.


D When the lid is leather hard, place it on the jar and trim to shape.

Once both the jar and the lid are dry enough, fit the lid on the jar. Since the jar is still centered on the bat, it acts as an already centered trimming chuck for the lid.
Put the piece back onto the wheel, get the wheel spinning, and trim the lid to an even curve (D). The downward pressure of the trimming tool as well as the moisture of the piece will keep the lid attached to the jar through the trimming process.

Score and slip the very top of the lid with a needle tool and a little water and attach a clay ball about the size of a large marble. Press down and give it a good wiggle to ensure a bond.

Get the wheel turning again and gently shape a knob (E). Only dip your fingertips into some water for this process as you don’t want to resaturate any other parts of the pot.


E Add a small piece of clay to the top and throw it into a knob, then define the edge.


The finished, flange-lidded jar, with ash glaze layered over other glazes and fired to cone 10.

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