When handbuilding covered jars, it can be difficult to make a lid that fits well. Over the years I’ve devised a few ways to make handbuilt lids with flanges that fit snugly into the opening of an oval jar, or any other pot that has an oval opening with a lid such as a teapot or casserole.
Making an Oval Jar
Cut out a basic jar shape using the “F” semi-circular template from the CircleMatic Formfinder Template Set* (figure 1). Form the oval for the bottom of the jar, then let the base stiffen up to leather hard. Divide the base into four sections, draw and cut arcs on all sides leaving at least an inch of space between each arc to create feet (figure 2). Flip the base over, then score and add slip to the entire cut area (figure 3).
Roll out a slab that’s larger than the base and place it over the scored and slipped area, then cut it flush with the edge of the arches (figure 4). Smooth out the cut edge with a pony roller and a sponge, pressing down to seal the attachment (figure 5).
Fitting an Oval Lid
Flip the base over onto its feet and put a piece of tracing paper over the opening. Trace the inside and outer edges of the opening with a water-based marker (figure 6).
On a small board have a soft slab ready that is at least one inch larger than your jar opening. Center the tracing paper drawing, ink-side down, on the slab and lightly run your finger over the drawing. The moisture in the clay will absorb the ink from the water-based marker, creating a print of the jar’s opening onto the clay (figure 7). Using a sharp knife, cut the slab about ³⁄8 to ½ inch larger than outside printed edge (figure 8). Refine and smooth the edges of the cut as these will be the outer rim of the lid.
Position the rim of the jar over the printed lines on the lid slab (figure 9), put another small board on top of the base then flip the two over together. Using the rim of the jar as a slump mold for the lid, roll a small wooden or Styrofoam ball around on the soft clay with slight pressure to create an even, concave shape (figure 10).
Cut a ½-inch-thick clay strip longer than you’ll need to fit inside the edge of your pushed-in lid. Place the strip at the point where the slope begins. Overlap the ends of the strip and cut the overlap at an angle so the ends fit together (figure 11). Score and slip the edges of the strip and attach them together. Let the ring flange stiffen up inside the lid, but don’t attach it to the lid yet. When the flange has stiffened up enough to hold its shape, score both the flange and the inside of the lid (figure 12). Tip: When scoring the flange, angle your scoring tool to create a bit of a curve so it matches the curve inside the pushed-in lid. Slip the scored parts and attach them. Flip your lid over and you have a finished jar with a puffed lid (figure 13).
*The CircleMatic Form Finder Template Set, a set of 24 flexible, durable templates to create circular and conical forms is available at www.circlematic.com.
the author Sandi Pierantozzi is a nationally recognized potter and has been handbuilding pots for 30 years. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and books on ceramics. She has presented many workshops across the country, and has exhibited her work nationally and abroad. Her work is in both museum and private collections. She and her husband, Neil Patterson, maintain a private studio, Neighborhood Potters, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To see and learn more, visit www.sandiandneil.com.