I am a slab builder from Maine, now living in the West of Scotland. I’ve had my hands in clay since I was 10—it is a part of me now. Through form, glazing, and surface treatment, my work reflects a lifelong enchantment with the ocean and rocky coastlines of Maine where I grew up. Here in Scotland, the enchantment continues. My work brings together this deep love for the sea and a sense of whimsy into a piece of artwork for your hands. I earned a BFA in 2000 from Maine College of Art & Design and started slab building in 2009 after moving to Scotland without my pottery wheel. In all these years, I have never returned to the wheel, I just love slabs! 

I use Toasted Stoneware made by Kettles Pottery Supply in Scotland and fire my work to cone 7 in an electric kiln. I also mix my own glazes. In order to take advantage of the depth of my darker clay body and how my glazes break over textures, I dip my pots in a white decorating slip before bisque firing them. 

My work has changed a lot since moving to Scotland, but has always been influenced by the sea—its movement, colors, energy, and how it inspires moments of calm. I want my work to bring these qualities to my collectors. I also want my work to bring joy to those who use it, and what better way for a lidded pot to do that than to jingle when you lift the lid, right? 

This joyful style of lid is versatile enough to work for any lidded pot, so let’s get started and see where you take it. 

Supporting the Lid and Creating a Dome 

Regardless of whether you handbuild or use the wheel, start off with a complete lidded form (a jar, teapot, etc.) and an 8-inch-wide (20-cm) slab that are both soft leather hard. (Your slab should be as thick as the wall of your lid). First off, you’ll need to create a way to turn the lid over without damaging the knob you have made for it. I use a cylindrical chuck I made specifically for this purpose, it has a soft, angled opening so it won’t damage the surface of the lid as I work on the underside of it. A cup with some fabric over the lip to soften it will work, too. Place your lid upside down into the chuck (1). 

Find the circumference of the inside of your lid gallery and create a circular, domed shape to fit inside that circumference. I have a cookie cutter that is the correct circumference and use a bisque mold to create the inner dome (2). If you do not handbuild, you can create this piece on the wheel, then let it set up to the same moisture level as your lidded pot before you attach it. 

1 Use a chuck to preserve the top and knob of lids while working on the underside. 2 Form a slab over a hump mold to make the dome, which will hold the jingly bits.

Filling the Dome 

Center the inner dome on the underside of your lid and trace the edge lightly with a needle tool (3). Score the clay thoroughly just underneath the trace line. 

Next, add some dried-out clay bits to the dome. These bits must be entirely dry before you use them, so they don’t attach to each other and become one big ball (4). The tone/sound of your jingle lid will depend on your clay body, the size of the bits you use, and the temperature you fire to. Play and experiment with this to see how to create the tones you like best. The most important thing to remember at this stage is to leave at least ¼ inch (6 mm) between the clay bits and the seam line so the bits won’t get stuck on it and not jingle (5). Tip: Using bisque-fired bits creates a duller tone after the glaze firing than starting with greenware bits. In order to have these handy at all times, I regularly collect and store the small bits of clay off my wire and needle tools. 

3 Place the inner dome just inside where the lid will rest on the gallery, then trace. 4 A collection of dried-out clay bits saved from needle-tool and wire working.

5 Place the dried bits in the center of the lid, away from the seam. 6 Only slip the outside edge of the dome to avoid the clay bits getting stuck.

Now score and slip only the outside edge of your dome (6), being careful not to let the slip/added moisture get onto the inside of it. There is no need to add slip to the underside of the lid. Any slip that gets inside the dome will inevitably and irrevocably gather up your dried-out bits and keep them from jingling. 

Carefully attach your inner dome by pressing gently and equally on opposite edges at the same time (7). Gently seal the seam with a damp brush or sponge, being careful not to add any additional moisture. 

7 Gently press opposite edges of the dome to attach without denting or shifting. 8 Poke a small hole in the dome to let moisture escape and avoid explosions.

Using a sewing pin, poke a hole somewhere on the inner dome to let moisture escape during the firings and avoid explosions (8). Leave your lid to set up a bit before carefully and quickly flipping the lid over. Flip it over in a way that the jingly bits will not spend too much (or any!) time on the inner seam to prevent them from getting stuck there. Voila! 

Avesha DeWolfe earned a BFA in functional and sculptural ceramics from Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine, and a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of New England, Portland, Maine. She now lives and works in Scotland, as a social worker and a studio artist. She shows her work nationally in the UK and internationally. Learn more at www.spiraltidepottery.com and on Instagram @spiraltidepottery