Since I’ve been investigating pottery forms for microwave use, I’ve found that a microwaved egg is a common breakfast, and a pot specifically for microwaving one egg is a popular item. There are whole websites featuring recipes of how to cook eggs in the microwave. This cooker makes a great gift for someone who’s always in a hurry or for elderly parents or busy friends. Actually the pot is quite versatile as a tool to quickly make a nutritious one-person meal.
Fundamentally the egg cooker is a small bowl with a lid and a handle. While it’s simple enough to make a bowl with a lid, I’ve learned a few things that will lead to a more satisfactory experience. Eggs can explode in the microwave, so the lid has to be sturdy enough to vent the steam and contain the mess without getting blown off.
The steam from an egg can make a bowl quite hot, so a handle is convenient although not a requirement. You can make a single poached egg in a small bowl, but a larger bowl is less likely to get the lid blown off, and allows you to add leftover stir-fried vegetables or a bit of shrimp or chicken.
For the bowl, start with about 1 pound of clay. Open it up and leave the floor only ¼ inch thick—there’s no need for a trimmed foot. Make the floor flat and about 3 inches across. Pull the walls up into a bowl about 3 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter at the rim. Use a small rubber rib to push the top ½ inch out to create a gallery (1). I make this gallery a little deeper than I normally would for such a small pot, and I make sure the rim is quite vertical, to hold the lid securely so it won’t blow off. Measure across the gallery (not the rim) with calipers. You’ll use these measurements when throwing the lid later. Remove any excess clay from the base, then wire under the pot.
The Handle and Lid
To throw the lid and handle off the hump, start with 1 pound of clay. The handle is what I refer to as a French onion soup mug handle—a horizontal cylinder attached to the side of the pot. There isn’t room on this short pot for a standard mug handle, and this style of handle is less likely to get too hot to touch. Center your clay, then make a groove about half way down the mound. Open up the top half of the clay down to the level of the groove. It’s a bit easier to remove the handle from the hump without deforming it if you don’t go too deep. You don’t need a floor on the handle so if you accidentally open it up deeper than the groove it isn’t a disaster. Pull up a small cylinder, collaring it in at the center and flaring the rim slightly to allow for a secure grip (2). You can even wrap your hand around it as you form it to evaluate the shape. Use a trimming tool with a triangular blade to deepen the groove at the base of the handle, and wire under it. Lift it off with dry fingertips and set it aside (3). Use the rest of the clay to make the lid.
The lid is thrown upside-down as a shallow bowl and the knob is added later. Throw a bowl about 1 inch deep and measure across the rim with the calipers (4). Widen the bowl until it matches the caliper measurements for the gallery. You want a pretty tight fit so double-check the caliper measurement carefully.
Assembling the Parts
Once all the parts are leather hard, turn the cooker over and trim any excess clay from the base, but don’t try to trim a foot. Check the fit of the lid. If it’s too tight you can trim a bit of clay from the rim of the lid. Center it right-side-up, secure it with wads, and trim the top of the lid into a smooth curve to match the interior.
To create a knob for the lid, shape a small ball of clay into a cone, score a small area in the center of the lid, and use magic water to create a circle of slip. Place and secure the cone of clay on the slip, then carefully center it with your fingertips (5). Be careful not to apply too much pressure or you risk collapsing the lid. Tip: You can place a dry sponge under the center of the lid to help support it, but with a lid this small, that isn’t necessary as long as you don’t push too hard or use too much water. Shape the clay into a knob. Put a ¼-inch hole in the lid using a similar drill bit to vent steam when in use (6).
To attach the handle, cut the base off (7) and bevel it slightly to fit the curve of the bowl. Try it on the bowl and make sure there’s space under it for your fingers. You may have to cut a bit more from the upper edge of the handle for a good fit. It’s easier to fit the handle if it’s still a bit soft, allowing you to bend it at the base to fit around the curve of the bowl instead of endlessly shaving bits of clay from each side. When you’re satisfied with the fit (8), draw around it with a needle tool, making a registration mark on both pieces so you can realign it exactly right. Score and slip both pieces, put the handle in place, and smooth it on.
Glazing and Firing
When glazing, wax the rim of the lid and the gallery of the pot and fire the lid in place. The unglazed surface will provide slight friction to keep the lid in place while in use. Be sure to use a food-safe, glossy glaze to line the interior for safety and ease of cleaning.
Sumi von Dassow is an artist, instructor, and regular contributor to Pottery Making Illustrated. She lives in Golden, Colorado. Check out Sumi’s book, In the Potter’s Kitchen, available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop, https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/shop/in-the-potters-kitchen.