The margarita cup design is a more recent one for me. I was invited to the “Margarita Cup IV Invitational” at the Companion Gallery and started experimenting with new forms. The challenge of creating something new that will stand out was exciting for me. I began experimenting with different forms and ideas and kept coming back to the faceting process I love. 

I threw a couple teabowls as they are probably my favorite form to make, and was attracted to the stem-like nature of the clay when it was pulled tall and faceted. I decided to focus on the chalice form and see what I might come up with if I worked through several iterations. After a productive time in the studio playing with these forms and developing the ideas, I began to feel confident about the margarita cups I would make for the show.

Dwayne Sackey's finished faceted margarita chalice.1 Throw the chalice stem into a skinny cylinder with walls about ½ inch thick.

Forming and Faceting the Stem

Begin by throwing the stem of the chalice. Center and pull up 3 pounds of clay into a skinny cylinder shape with walls about ½ inch thick (1). 

The thickness of your walls depends on how deep you wish to cut your facets with a cheese cutter. The cheese cutters that I like to use are adjustable and I usually work with the setting at just under a centimeter. You can freehand this process if you like, but I appreciate the consistency that comes with the predetermined measurement. 

Refine the exterior with a metal rib to shape the form, then prep the surface for faceting. 

Make your cuts starting from the bottom of the stem moving upward (2), and rotating the tool to the left so that it comes to a diagonal angle a quarter of the way up the stem, then pull the tool out to leave a sharp angle. Move up about a centimeter, then place the tool in and repeat the process, this time starting with it diagonally facing left and ending halfway up the form facing diagonally right (3). On the next pass, end with the cut horizontal a centimeter below the rim. Continue this process by alternating the angles around the stem. I aim to create a zigzagging line of raised clay working its way around the stem by lining up the cuts in an alternating direction. Feel free to play with the patterns, angles, and depth of your cuts. Faceting is such a fun process and there are so many possibilities when you start with a thick enough cylinder.

Once you are done faceting the body of the chalice, use a paint scraper or stiff, sharp rib with a right angle to accentuate where the facets meet the wheel head (4). This will create a sharp, angular foot that fits with the overall surface design.

2 Make facet cuts starting from the bottom of the stem and moving upward. 3 As you move up, start new cuts at a diagonal, then repeat the process to the top. 4 Use a paint scraper or a rib with a right angle to accentuate the base.5 Throw a narrow cup with ½-inch-thick walls. Straighten the sides of the form.

Forming and Faceting the Cup

The cup that sits atop the stem follows a similar process. Start with 2 pounds of clay and throw a narrow cup shaped like a shot glass with ½-inch-thick walls. Straighten up the sides of the form, then refine the exterior with a metal rib to prep the surface for faceting (5). 

Facet the cup starting from the bottom and pulling the tool out halfway up the form this time to create a zigzagging pattern that works its way around the belly of the cup (6). 

When you have made facets all the way around the form, it is time to open the cup. Since you left a substantial amount of clay in the walls and are working with a plastic clay body, the pot has a good chance of opening without tearing or crumpling. Start out by expanding the interior of the pot by hand and then shape it with a rib to get the desired curve (7). In my opinion, the rib’s shape is the best way to dictate the angle of the curve of a bowl and if the rib you are using does not give the desired shape when pressed into the clay, it might be worth making or buying a rib that will give you your desired curve without too much fuss. There is nothing more satisfying than having a good rib that, when pressed into a steeply angled bowl, creates an elegant curve that sings in harmony with the form. There are lots of ways to create a nice curve and you can achieve the curve of your bowl however you see fit. 

Smooth and refine the interior of the bowl, which will become the cup, with a soft, flexible rib (8), then smooth the lip with a chamois to finish the pot (9).

6 Facet the cup starting from the bottom to create a zigzagging pattern. 7 Expand the interior by hand and then shape it with a rib to create a curve. 8 Smooth and refine the interior with a soft, flexible rib.9 Smooth the lip with a chamois to finish the pot.

Prepping the Forms for Attachment

Before connecting the stem and cup, it is important to make sure the two points of contact are the same diameter. Measure the rim of the stem and trim the cup to fit. 

Tap centering is my favorite way to center pots for trimming and a foam bat works well for stabilizing forms with undulating rims. Set the cup upside down on the foam bat and tap it to find center as the wheel slowly spins (10). Tip: Set a large metal washer in the center of the foot (11), which helps apply even downward pressure when you trim. Trim the outside of the foot to the same dimension as the stem of the chalice (12). Alternatively, leaving the bottom flat can work just as well as trimming to match the contour of the interior curve.

Attaching the Stem and Cup

Once you have the pieces trimmed and the stem is firm enough to take the weight of the cup, slip and score the two surfaces where they will be joined (13), then attach them (14). I often use vinegar in place of slip and have been known to forgo the scoring process, but with more elaborate forms I do recommend slipping and scoring because it is more reliable. 

10 Set the cup upside down on a foam bat and tap it slowly to find center. 11 Set a metal washer in the center of the foot to help apply even pressure. 12 Trim the outside of the foot to the same dimension as the base of the stem.13 Slip and score the cup and chalice surfaces where they will be joined.

Applying Finishing Touches

When you’ve got your stems and cups attached, wrap them in plastic or place them in the damp box to help the connection to become strong. The moisture moving back and forth between the two forms relieves tension and greatly improves the chance that your pot will stick together without cracking at the seam. The amount of time to leave the pots covered is debatable, but I’d recommend letting them rest for a day or two before taking them out. Lastly, soften the hard angles with a smooth sponge and clean up the foot of the chalice (15). 

To clean the foot, set it on a smooth surface and gently gyrate the cup so that the foot stays in contact with the surface, your hands grasping the form and the weight of the chalice pressing down into one section of the foot at a time. Move your hands in a counterclockwise motion while maintaining your grip on the pot and keeping the foot in contact with the hard, smooth surface. If the clay is on the stiff side, you may need to apply a bit of downward pressure, but be careful not to smush the pot! I start with small circles and gradually make bigger circles before returning to center. The foot should be relatively smooth by this point. Use your thumb to blend in any imperfections and finish by using a smooth sponge to compress the seam where the foot meets the stem. 

14 Attach the two pieces together and secure the join.15 Soften the hard angles with a smooth sponge and clean up the foot.

Fermentation crock and weights, to 7½ in. (19 cm) in height, Laguna B-Mix clay, crystal springs porcelain slip. Dwayne Sackey’s bisque-firing schedule.

Dwayne Sackey earned his BFA from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2019. He exhibited at the Multnomah County Justice Center in 2019, and at the governor’s mansion in 2021. Sackey was a recipient of the 2021 Studio Potter grant for apprenticeship alongside his mentor Chris Baskin, had a demo presentation at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in 2022, and taught a workshop at Clay By The Bay in 2022. To see more, visit