Throwing Clay to Achieve Texture and Interest on Assembled Pots

I am happy to announce that Three Great Throwing Techniques: Tips for Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills is now available for download! To give you an idea of the great stuff featured in this collection, I am posting an excerpt today.
Presentation is everything! Imagine yourself arriving at a party
with a six pack of your favorite Mexican beverage hanging from one hand
and the belly of a stilted bucket loaded with limes in the palm of the
other. Grasping the ceramic piece on the underside enables you to give
your host a hearty hug with hands full! That was Jake Allee’s idea behind his “Stilted Bucket.” Check out Jake’s process below! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
The stilted bucket is a product of several elements within my
creative process. One of the primary elements is historical
inspiration, and, after looking at many examples of Chinese Chou period
bronzes, I began to think about how I could change the orientation of
my forms to construct new work. Many bronze pieces have a combination
of geometric and organic elements with an angular quality that creates
interest within the form, and I wanted to inject this into my
repertoire.Deconstructing Chinese forms in my sketch book, I realized that many
of these pieces stand on tripods that lift the forms in a manner that
makes me want to put my hand under them and lift them up. I also
realized that most of the textures created from altering clay appear on
the sides of my pieces, and the light bulb in my head turned on. How
could I create a form that would make the viewer want to interact with
it in the same way that I wanted to handle an ancient Chinese bronze on
a tripod.

The Stilted Bucket is composed of three basic thrown forms. The first
is a bulbous cylinder that is marked, altered and sprigged. The second
is a thick disc stretched into an oval. The last is a bottomless, wide
cylinder with a clean lip and attention given to the base. After
creating these pieces, they’re cut apart and reused for assembly. Do
all the throwing at the same time to ensure even moisture content in
the components.

This technique is included in Three Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers. Check out our other free gifts as well!

The Process
Throw a basic cylinder without a bottom. Pay extra attention to centering because any flaw is reflected in the final form.

After creating the profile, carefully mark an evenly spaced grid around the exterior. The next step exaggerates the form and the end result is larger in volume.

Starting from the bottom and working to the top, press out the form with your finger using the marks as guidelines. Try to press each area the same amount in order to maintain the symmetry of the form.
Make small balls of clay and press them into the clay at the intersections of the grid. This pushes back in and emphasizes the alteration. Trim excess clay from the bottom.
Set aside and allow it to become leather hard.
Throw a 1-inch thick disc and compress it, but end the compression about 3/4 of an inch from the edge. This creates a line that later relates to the pot’s design elements.

Keep the outer edge profile smooth then undercut the disc.

Immediately remove the disc from the wheel and stretch it into an oval by throwing it onto a canvas surface.

Make sure the piece hits the table at an angle so the disc stretches.

The clay should make a “wisp” sound instead of a “WHAM!” when it hits the table.

After stretching the disc, roll the edges over to eliminate any sharpness.

This also creates a relationship between the curled area and the handles that will be attached later.

This technique is included in Three Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers. Check out our other free gifts as well!

Throw a wide bottomless cylinder. Mimic the curve created by the side of the bulbous altered cylinder.

Shape and compress the lip. Finish the base with an old credit card with a curved notch cut into it. This creates a line that relates to the profile of the other edges. Set aside to stiffen up.

Trim excess clay from the bottom of the bulbous form.

The piece should be symmetrical top to bottom and left to right.

Cut the leather-hard bulbous form and stretched disc in half.

These become the belly and the stilts respectively.

Prepare for assembly by scoring the pieces.

Place the bulbous underbelly on a piece of foam and attach it to the stilts.

Reinforce the connection on the interior with a small coil that is blended in.

Attach the other stilt.

Cut away a section of the wide cylinder, and attach it to the rim of the bowl.

Remember to always leave more clay than you think you will need when cutting this piece.

Blend in small coils to reinforce all joints on both the inside and outside of the piece.

Continue to rest the piece on a block of foam to protect the stilts and bowl.

Cut a curve in the base of each stilt, but pay attention to the relationship of these curves to the established composite form.
After addressing the details on the underside, pull two short handles and attach them to the top of the stilts.

Curl the handles to mimic the top of the stilt. Dry the piece under plastic for several days.

“Triple Stilted Bucket,” 6-1/2 inches in height, thrown and altered
composite form, soda fired to cone 10. An architectural piece designed
to elevate food in the extravagance of the standard smorgasbord spread.
This piece operates under the assumption that not everyone likes
chocolate pudding mixed in with their creamed corn.

  • Marcia S.

    I was part of the demonstrators at the South Texas Ceramics Showdown last year with Jake. I love his work and his demonstrations are really great. Sweet person too.
    Marcia Selsor

  • i took a summer cont ed. class from Jake a few years ago. It is really great to see his work featured on this website! Keep up the good work!

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