Pottery Video of the Week: Think Big! The Secrets of Amping up the Scale of Your Pottery

A few weeks back, at the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference, the CAD booth was set up across from the Skutt booth. Over the course of the three days we were in the exhibitor hall, Scott Semple worked on a giant pot in the Skutt booth. By the end of the conference, it was taller than me (and I am 5'10"). It was pretty amazing to watch all of this transpire. Then, at the end of the conference, when we were all tearing down our booths, Scott pushed it off the wheel and sent it crashing to the ground (to the sound of gasps and shrieks).

Well, Scott just wrapped up an instructional DVD on big pot throwing and, for those of you who missed the conference, I am presenting an excerpt from it today. In the DVD, Scott throws one of these babies over the course of only one day and shares all of the secrets to pulling off such a feat. This clip is slightly condensed, but it is still packed with a lot of great information. Enjoy! - Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



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This clip was excerpted from Scott Semple: Throwing Large Pots, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!

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To learn more about Scott Semple of see images of his work, please visit http://www.pacificceramicdesign.com/.


  • I can’t seem throw anything larger than a foot high. Don’t have the muscles for anything bigger. amazing to watch!

  • Paul S.

    I have always wanted to throw that large. Your video is very inspiring. How do you fire something that size and how much would something like that sell for or are pieces this size are commissioned work? Your work in truly astounding.

  • Tracy W.

    didn’t get to watch this untill now but, WOW!! WOW!!

    thank you!! Great video!!

  • Ethel M.

    I would like this a lot better if the sound worked.

  • Scott S.

    I am offering one on one throwing sessions this summer. They will be a wk long at my studio in sunny So Cal. Come throw with the “Big Pot Guy”! Surf, eat, camp, swim, hike, fire, pot..this will be a great adventure in Large Format Throwing..Hundreds of pounds of clay a week. There are local discounts with lodging or camp, and reasonable rates for the classes, specializing in technique. I will begin this advertisement in June issue of Ceramics Monthly. If you are at all interested ahead of time, call the Pacific Ceramic Design studio hotline at: 805-245-7706 Scott Semple

  • Lynne N.

    I was holding my breath! Would have liked a clearer view of the tongue-in-groove technique. Am looking forward to giving this a try, though I’ll be starting out just a tad shorter…

  • Love this demonstration. Thank you, Scott!

    For those of you having video problems, it seems to be a browser thing. I have a blank screen in Internet Explorer, but was able to watch the video with Firefox.

  • Katrina L.

    Hey Scott. Woke up this morning – made an expresso and watched your video. As an experienced potter I thought it was absolutely spell binding and such great skill. The whole video display was excellent and entertaining.
    Thanks and best wishes
    Gareth (Wales UK)

  • Scott S.

    I am sorry to hear about your physical restrictions. But graduate to more and more clay and hopefully your body will gain strength incrimentally as well. As far as Clay= I use a Laguna body ( BIg Pot) which has 30% grog for height/structure…Also dry your clay out before continuing to lift, like I do with the torches. Learn to use heat as your principal ally while throwing larger and I’m sure you will find that throwing more clay stands up to the task as opposed to slumping. High grog clay is your ticket. Most companies carry something in the 30% grog range, they just call it something different (Sculptural body, Raku body etc)
    Good Luck

  • Kathleen R.

    Well, I am indubitably and unabashedly, in awe. I miss throwing big pots with more clay, though Never, did I reach these proportions. Practicing how to do it in sections may help me return to some semblance of largeness. I threw one pot in sections back in 1986, a mistake that turned “right,” with the assistance of a kind mentor/fellow ceramic student. I still have that piece, with many fond memories. Now, after a major surgery to reconstruct my spine, I have returned to clay and continue to increase my clay quantity incrementally so I can increase the size of my pots.

    I have questions…. what type of clay is recommended, so I have plasticity to enable me to move the clay without too much damage to my body… and with enough strength to make it stand strong without flopping while I’m throwing, and dry without cracking? I would appreciate any input. Thanks again, Scott, for the fun of watching your video and dreaming!

  • Subscriber T.

    Sweet video Scott!! Great Job ( :

  • Lynn R.

    Trouble seeing video with only a blank spot….and all previous videos blank too. I emailed Ceramics Arts Daily x2….but no answer!! I have tried the FAQ…but nothing works. Any ideas???

  • Scott S.

    That’s RB…I think he’s available:)

  • Ecira S.

    Great job, Scott! Fun! Nice to have a beefy young assistant with biceps, too… What is his name, again?

  • Bery nice work,the video fantastic.
    Un trabajo excelente Scott, mucha precision realizandolo, lo he disfrutado mucho

  • Scott S.

    It’s not really trashing it…the love is in the process. Those demos on the street corners are amazing in ways that are outside of the expected. Sometimes people watch me for hours on end…what you might call aesthetic arrest= getting folks to think and feel and ACT outside their preconcieved perameters..that’s worth a little trash…green trash!

  • Victoria S.

    hmm … never had any problems before, but no video is showing ….

  • Karen V.

    Nice work! Thank you so much for sharing your technique. Your video is so helpful to lowly potter’s such as myself. Did you really trash it? Sad but clay goes on!

  • Mike H.

    You’re a very cool dude Scott. Yes, it’s all about attitude as you say, your willingness to teach the art is exemplary. I’ll be heading over to the Phx Zoo to check your work.

  • Patty D.

    No video for me either. Tried several times. What’s up?

  • Scott S.

    Yes we trashed the piece after the show then I went home and slept for a month and a half!! I do sometimes transport them. To see finish work go to PacificCeramicDesign.com or Skutt.com/Semple. The kiln I use is the new ‘Transformer’ by Skutt which is on the back of the mags this month, loading a demo piece in Salem Or. Also the Skutt FB page has good shots of the piece I threw at NCECA, a seven ft. Amphora that I ended up pouring an entire bottle of Merlot over…well almost an entire bottle…before trashing the piece and donating the clay to a kids ceramics program in St Pete. Good luck to all. Let me know if I can help you upscale/

  • this video is so excellent, we in Peru know little about this, some people practice with red clay.

  • Hi Folks my video space is blank now too never had any trouble before, any ideas.

  • Nigel C.

    When speed drying using a hot torch the wheel should be turning slowly to prevent dry spots and warping. Simular tall composit forms can be made using thick coils of clay and drawing these upto the required height – again the pot needs the dry slightly before the application of another coil.The composition of the clay body is also important when making large thrown forms,too plastic and it will warp and distort when drying – clay has a memory – too soft it will collapse, a slightly open body will help prevent distortion, also due to the size of the form it should be thoroughly dry before fireing.

  • Carol S.

    A video or 2 ago people complained that the video space was blank. I had no trouble until now. Now it’s blank and all the videos from previous weeks are blank. This has never happened before. Anybody know what’s up?

  • Caroline R.

    Wow, incredible! … How would something like that be fired? & the logistics of moving it?

  • So, after all that, did you trash that piece and chalk it up as a demo? Or did you transport it back to your studio for firing? And if so, how did you manage that? Very cool demo, thanks for sharing. Would love to see the final product!

  • Georgia L.

    Grate job!!!!!! So impressive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the show.

  • Subscriber T.

    how did he cut the batt off?

  • Looks like a lot of fun. Keep up the great work Scott!!!


  • Love your work Scott, watched you throw at NCECA, and you said you could teach me to throw a big pot, even though I am 71:>)

  • weekendrentals@netzero.net

    So impressive…. Love the shape

  • Rene H.

    Awesome, absolutely Awesome….

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