What part of the pottery process do I find most fulfilling? For me, it’s all about the textured surface, as well as the form. I love the tactile nature that carving brings. I enjoy making a variety of pieces from stoneware clay that allow me to carve textured patterns. Ever since I had my first pottery lesson when my teacher gave me a carving tool, I became hooked. My small pourer is a good, fairly easy piece to show off a simple carving technique that engages the entire surface. It doesn’t have a handle and the style of spout creates character to the otherwise basic pourer.

Two carved pourers by Kate Clark.

Throwing the Body

hartleyandnoble.co.uk*Start with approximately 10½ ounces (300 g) of semi-soft stoneware clay. You don’t want it too wet, or it’ll easily collapse and if it’s too hard you’ll find it difficult to center. Wedge the clay to get rid of any air pockets and create an even consistency. Center the clay so that it is 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter. Create a hole in the center and open it up to form a base that is roughly 2 inches (7 cm) in diameter, making sure to compress the base to prevent cracking while drying and bisque firing. Make sure your first pull is slightly directed inward to prevent flaring out. It’ll be easier to control. 

The second and third pulls create the height of the pourer body (about 3 inches (8 cm)), which is slightly tapered in to 2 inches (6.5 cm) diameter (1). It is important, however, for the walls to have enough thickness to allow for carving. I’ve frustratingly ruined many a piece by having the walls too thin. 

Next, use a sponge on a stick to soak up the water in the base of the form (2). Use a wooden rib to straighten the sides (3), and then a metal rib to get rid of the excess slip and dry the surface. Use a small piece of chamois leather (or a thin piece of plastic will work) to smooth the rim. 

Use a blunt knife to take away the skirt of clay at the base of the cylinder (4). Allow the form to dry to leather hard. 

1 Center and open the clay. The first pull is slightly directed inward. The second and third pulls create the height of the body. 2 Using a sponge on a stick, soak up any excess water that has collected in the base of the form. 3 Use a wooden rib to straighten the sides, and then use a metal rib to remove the excess slip and dry the surface. 4 Using a knife-like tool, take away the skirt of clay at the base or the cylinder, so the form has lift from the tabletop.

Throwing the Spout

Use a small lump of clay—I tend to not weigh it—and throw a narrow cylinder that has a diameter of approximately 1/2 inch (1.5 cm). After removing the excess slip (5), and smoothing the rim created for the pourer’s main body, leave it to dry to leather hard. I have tried rolling a slab and cutting and shaping it for the spout, but I’m happier with the thrown results.

Trimming the Pourer

Once both components are leather hard, they are ready to be trimmed and refined. Center the spout on the wheel. Measure roughly  inch (2 cm) from the top of the thrown spout and lightly score while keeping your hand still in the same position, with each revolution getting deeper into the clay until the spout cleanly detaches (6). Cut the spout in half lengthwise (7), and set it aside. 

5 Throw the spout by forming a narrow cylinder. Remove the excess slip and smooth the rim. 6 Center the firm, narrow form on the wheel and score through the clay until the spout cleanly detaches. 7 Using a sharp knife, cut the spout in half lengthwise, then set the pieces aside wrapped in plastic. 8 Center the main body upside down on the wheel. Trim a bevel to the edge of the base at a 45° angle.

Next, trim/turn the main body. When the cylinder is sufficiently dry, it will pop off the wooden bat. Center it on the wheel upside down, then use a sharp trimming tool to tidy up the sides if needed and trim the edge of the base at a 45° angle (8). This will create a little shadow, which will give a lightness to the piece when it’s on a table surface. 

Assembling the Pourer

Now, hold the spout to the cylinder and experiment with different positions until you get to one you like. Having the spout at a slight angle is preferable as it’ll make pouring more natural and fluid. Holding the spout in your desired position lightly score where the spout meets the cylinder—it’s a semicircle (9). Next, cut the semicircle, angling the cut into the wall slightly to accommodate the spout (10). After scoring and slipping both pieces, make sure the spout is lined up, then attach them and add a thin coil of clay around the join to strengthen it, blending in the seam carefully (11). The form is complete.

9 Hold the cut spout to the cylinder and experiment with different positions until you find to one you like. Mark the spot. 10 Cut the semicircle with a sharp tool, angling the wall slightly to accommodate a tilted spout. 11 Score and slip both pieces, make sure the spout is lined up, and attach and blend the seam with a small coil. 12 Mark a line around about ⅘ inch (2 cm) below the rim. Carve straight lines around the exterior of the pourer.

Carving the Exterior

Measure ⅘ inch (2 cm) from the top of the pourer. Center the piece on the wheel and lightly mark a line around the form while the wheel spins (12). This indicates where to start each carved line. 

To carve the lines, I use the P2 tool from DiamondCore Tools, which produces a thickness of carved line that gives the overall look I am striving for. I aim to carve at roughly 1–2 mm depth (about 1/16 inch). I enjoy the challenge of getting the carved line as even and regular as I can. Because they’re hand carved, the lines give an effect that is visually interesting and feels good in the hand.

After finishing the carving and stamping your maker’s mark on the base, lightly sponge the piece to smooth the edges and remove any debris (13). Leave the form to dry slowly.

13 Sponge the edges of cuts to clean up any sharp spots, but be careful not to remove any definition. 14 Rinse and lightly sand the bisque-fired piece. Wax the base to repel glaze, then coat the interior with a liner glaze. 15 Using both hands, grip the rim from the interior, then dip the form in glaze to coat the exterior.


When completely dry, bisque fire the pourer to 1742°F (950°C). Next, lightly sand then rinse the bisque-fired piece to remove any dust and rough edges, making sure you wear a properly fitted respirator to avoid dust inhalation. Wax the base to repel the glaze. When the wax is completely dry, pour a shiny white liner glaze into the interior (14), then pour it out and leave it to dry overnight. 

Next, dip the pourer into your glaze of choice to coat the exterior (15). I use a matte oat glaze because it creates toasty tones on the carved edges and contrasts nicely with the shiny white of the interior. Wipe the base clean and smooth out any drips. Finally, I fire the pourer to 2282°F (1250°C). I hope you have a go and you enjoy your making and carving. It’s addictive!

Finished carved pourer by Kate Clark. Finished carved pourer by Kate Clark. Finished carved pourer by Kate Clark.


Kate Clark is a trained graphic designer who lives in London, UK, with her husband and two boys and works from her pottery studio in her garden. Since learning pottery in New York City in 2016, she has evolved a style inspired by Japanese simplicity and appreciation of the handmade, to enjoy being used and looked at. Learn more at, www.kceramicsstudio.com or on Instagram at @k_ceramics.