In the Potter’s Kitchen: Personal Crocks

Potpies are the epitome of comfort food. They remind me of dinners as a kid, when my mom would bring a creamy, bubbling potpie to the table. With this in mind, I created personal potpie crocks that bring back that nostalgic feeling, but with contemporary style.

These crocks are perfect for any occasion, from a dinner party to date night. They also make it easy to bake individual portions and freeze them for a quick and delicious meal on a busy night. These versatile crocks provide endless potpie possibilities for the ambitious cook of the family.

Making the Crock

Wedge a 1¾-pound ball of clay. Throw a wide-bottomed bowl, tapering it in toward the top. The bowl should be about three inches tall with a generous lip (figure 1). When I throw this type of form, I like to work in groups of ten. It will be faster in the long run, and you’ll have enough crocks at the end to create at least two batches of delicious potpies!

1 For the crock, start by throwing a wide-bottomed bowl, tapering it in toward the top, and leaving a generous lip.

2 Throw a 2-inch handle off of the hump. Let the bowl and the handle stiffen up to leather hard before attaching.

3 For the saucer, throw a wide plate with a tall rim. Cut away the rim in a wavy motion and smooth the lip with a chamois.

 

Making the Handle and Saucer

After finishing the bowls, I throw the handles off the hump (figure 2). Since they weigh less than ¼ pound each, this method makes it much easier to throw many handles in quick succession.

A saucer is an important functional element, allowing the hot crocks to be brought to the table with ease. To create the saucer, begin with two pounds of wedged clay. Center it wide and flat, about 5½ inches wide by 1 inch high. After pulling the wall, use a wire tool to cut away the rim in a wavy motion, and then smooth it with a chamois (figure 3). With the wheel turning, fold the rim in on itself by applying pressure inward. Flatten the rim down by pressing out with the fingers of your left hand while supporting the outside with your right hand. After this step the lip might be quite thick. In this case, use pressure from the fingers of both hands to thin the rim until the plate is about 8 inches wide (figure 4).

Once all parts of the crock are trimmed and not-quite leather hard, add a small slab to cap the wider open end of the handle, and attach it to the shoulder of the bowl, on the upper side of the belly, so it sits at a slight angle (figure 5). Using a needle tool, poke a hole through the bottom side of the handle to allow air to escape during shrinkage and firing.

4 After smoothing the lip, fold the rim in on itself by pushing out with your left hand while pushing in with your right hand.

5 Add a small slab of clay to cap the open end of the handle, then attach the handle to the top half of the bowl to finish the set.

6 Dip each piece in a base glaze, then brush on a wax resist pattern. Dip each piece in a second glaze and sponge away any drips.

 

Time to Glaze!

The process of glazing my work involves layering different glazes and wax resist. I use Forbes wax because it’s water based and brushes on smoothly with long-lasting coverage. It dries quickly, and easily cleans off of brushes.

I begin my process with a base glaze. To create my molten glaze patterns, I use more stable glazes as bases, with more fluid glazes on top. To apply my base coat, I dip the piece in the desired glaze and let it dry.

Pot Pie Crocks 2A pattern of wax lines is brushed onto the surface of the glaze, leaving linear designs where the base glaze shines through. Some glazes are so light in color that the wax almost disappears after it dries, and for these, I add just a drop of blue food coloring to the wax (figure 6). After the wax is dry, dip the piece into the over glaze. To keep the base glaze as the interior liner glaze, simply hold the piece by the foot and dip it in the glaze straight down. This creates an air bubble inside the piece. Make sure to dip the piece in a smooth, steady motion and be careful not to tilt it or the air will escape and glaze will get in. Shake off any excess glaze and use a small sponge to gently remove any glaze drips or splashes on the wax lines.

Caleb Zouhary earned his MFA in ceramics from the University of North Texas, Denton. He is currently a studio artist living in Bedford, Ohio. To learn more about Caleb and his work, visit www.calebzouhary.com.

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Subscriber Extras: Images

Caleb Zouhary’s lasagna bakers.

Caleb Zouhary’s pot pie crocks.

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