How to Throw an Oblong, Asymmetrical Bowl on the Potters Wheel

Learn how to make an asymmetrical bowl!

Asymmetrical Bowl

Throwing bottomless pots and adding slab bases is a great way to play around with shapes other than round—without a thrown bottom you are free to alter the pot into any old shape.

In this post, an excerpt from his book Throwing, Richard Phethean shows how he makes an asymmetrical bowl. I really like how he contrasted the asymmetric shape in the finished pot (above) with a spiral mark on the floor of the bowl. Have a look and then see what kind of shapes you can come up with. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Hollow right down to the bat, creating a “doughnut” ring of clay without a base. Widen the doughnut form, taking care not to tear the ring away from the bat’s surface. When the desired diameter is reached, lift the wall into a sturdy cylindrical shape, with weight at both the base and the rim. Try making your first one with between 700 g and 1 kg (1 lb 11 oz‚ 2 lb 3 oz) of clay. The dish in the sequence shown here was made using 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) of clay.

Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques

Amp up your throwing skills when you download this freebieFive Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques.


Throw like a pro!
Throwing is an important skill for any potter to master, using only a few tools, the guidance of their hands, and the momentum of a wheel. In his book, Throwing, Richard Phethean describes essential techniques for working on the wheel with an eye to the practical.

Read more and download an excerpt…

Asymmetrical Bowl

Click to enlarge!

1 Allow to stiffen just slightly, then carefully wire off the wall from the bat.

2 Lay a sheet of thin plastic over the rim, then place a bat on the plastic sheet.

3 Invert the wall, sandwiched between the two bats, and carefully lift off the original bat. The wall is now ready to shape.

4 For soft, rounded corners, press in the sides with flat palms, as  illustrated. Alternatively, pull the shape out using your extended index fingers on opposite sides. The rim should slide easily on the plastic sheet. Now score and apply slurry to the exposed rim.

Asymmetrical Bowl5 Place a pre-prepared slab on to the rim. This could be a rolled slab, plain or textured, approximately 7-8 mm thick (around 1/4 in.)‚ or a thrown, rimless plate still attached to its own bat.

6 Place a bat on the slab base and turn the dish back over. Use your index fingers to seal the join inside and out.

7 Allow the form to dry a little more, then use a sharp-pointed knife to trim away the excess slab. Note how the knife is held at an angle to create an slight undercut.

**First published in 2014.


  • I have taught this to my Pottery 2 students and I’ve found the rolled slab base keeps a uniform height for the sides which the students like, It’s a good getting your pottery mojo back after a summer or semester off I teach the adding of Lugs to the shape as well.

  • William W.

    Alexis this forum is aimed at all levels of ability and interest. It is up to each and every one of us to pass on our knowledge of different but relevant techniques so that each indiviual can make a choice.Stop nitpicking.

  • Anna K.

    I handbuild mostly. Not really fond of throwing, but, this appeals to me!
    Can’t wait to run out to the studio and try this technique!

  • Alexis J.

    Bill — a ‘superior’ way may suit you — not others. Andrew — it appears to me that the conversion in Step 5 is correct — 7 mm is 0.28″, just over 1/4″. Thanks Richard for your time in preparing the steps/illustrations/and suggestion for the bowl. It’s always helpful to watch how others do ‘it’.

  • William W.

    A superior and faster method is to cut an elliptical piece out of the base of a thrown bowl and then reshape the pot by pressing the sides inwards until the edges of the cut-out come together and can be joined and sealed.

  • Andrew L.

    Great information, however, the metric conversion in step 5 is wrong. 7-8 mm is a little more than 1/4 in. 1 inch would be a thick pot!!!

  • Claire P.

    I always love hearing ideas that other potters have. I will try a few of these tomorrow!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image
Send this to a friend